Let us keep the Advent season and discover the true treasure of His Comings
Advent is a wonderful opportunity to review those lasting things in our lives. Advent is a time for cleaning house, for digging into the the storehouse of living faith in order to prepare ourselves, so that we - and the world - will be ready for His coming(s).
Some see Advent as a "Little Lent." However, the focus is very different. It is a season of hope filled expectation and preparation for a coming of the Lord. We are called to "clean house" and make room for the Lord in our lives. However, like most gifts, we do not really appreciate its content unless we unwrap it and receive it.
Let us keep the Advent season and discover the true treasure of His Comings!
The word "advent" means "coming" and this liturgical season deals with the comings of Jesus Christ, both his first and second. In fact, some theologians have called Advent the "Season of the Already/Not Yet." He has already come but he has not yet come again.
Advent basically reminds us of the interval in which we are now living. We have the merits and graces of his first coming poured out among us, yet even now, we can think about his future coming; what it will be like when he comes again in the culmination of salvation history.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem talked about Advent in his Catechetical lectures during the middle of the Fourth Century. There he talks about the importance of looking both ways.
"We preach not one advent only of Christ, but a second also, far more glorious than the former. For the former gave a view of His patience; but the latter brings with it the crown of a divine kingdom.
"For all things, for the most part, are twofold in our Lord Jesus Christ: a twofold generation; one, of God, before the ages; and one, of a Virgin, at the close of the ages: His descents twofold; one, the unobserved, like rain on a fleece; and a second His open coming, which is to be. We rest not then upon His first advent only, but look also for His second."
These are wonderful theological perspectives that can help us understand the significance of this interesting season. Advent, however, can become far more personal.
Reflections on the Already
As a Vietnam veteran I learned one thing during my deployment in Southeast Asia - I was mortal. Just after returning, a young man I had met challenged me to give my life fully to Christ. He told me that this was not just going to church a lot; this meant developing a life of daily prayer, Scripture reading, and dependence on His grace. I was being called to take the promises that had been made at my baptism and make them my own - completely. It meant depending on the power of the Holy Spirit for strength, something that was sacramentally endowed in confirmation.
My friend reminded me that Christ had told His disciples, "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) All Christians are invited to receive grace to live abundantly in this life as well possess the hope of eternal life. This was why Christ had come; the reason for His first Advent.
A consecrated life is not one reserved only for those in Holy Orders or living out their lives in a religious vocation. This is the life all Christians are called to live as the norm.
While I had always thought of myself as a "good" person, I had never given our Lord first place in my life. When I offered my "yes" to God, based on my friend's invitation, I found my life truly transformed.
Through the help of those who were more mature in the faith, I learned how to live more actively for Christ. I found that this commitment meant allowing His grace and teachings to be drawn into my life and having my life drawn more into His world - the Church.
Now, as Advent comes each year, I like to reflect on how I have lived with respect to my life of devotion and service. Am I availing myself of the Sacraments? Am I praying, reading the Scriptures, and spending time in personal formation? Am I becoming the salt and light to the world that I am called to be?
These are wonderful points of reflection, remembering Christ's first coming - the first Christmas. As the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy in his epistle, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." (I Timothy 1:15)
Reflections on the Not Yet
The First Sunday of Advent, no matter which reading cycle is used, focuses on the second coming. We are remembering a truth that we declare in every Mass when we recite the Nicene Creed.
"He will come again to judge the living and the dead."
We profess it but do we really ponder it? We rarely talk or think about the second coming beyond that affirmation. So, Advent, especially the first Sunday, is particularly important.
He will come ...
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