Intention: That this Advent will be for us a time of reflection on the miracle of Emmanuel – of God with us – and that it will be filled with prayer, repentance, and good will to all.
Today’s Gospel | Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
A Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent | Saint John Baptist de La Salle
On this, the first day of Advent, Christians everywhere are being called to place themselves in a special time of preparation. Soon, we will celebrate the birth so many years ago of our Savior, and so for the next month we will prayerfully and mindfully reflect on the meaning of that event for everyone and everything then and since. We will try to grasp the unimaginable gift of God’s redemptive breaking into our history, turning darkness into light and death into life. And, hopefully, we also will take time to ponder what we have done and what we still can do with that gift.
The word advent means “a coming”. It is an interesting word to use in relation to the One who always is, who has never not been present. However, the nativity of Jesus was truly God coming to us, in a way that we had never known but might be possible for us to recognize through the eyes of faith. By approaching us as one of us, perhaps we would learn how to approach him. By dispelling the illusion of distance, perhaps we then would stop creating distance to use as an excuse for our sinfulness. In the tiny cry of an infant, perhaps we would finally hear God’s eternal “I Am.”
And so, the message of Advent is not so much to start waiting as it is to stop waiting. The God who is on his way is Emmanuel – God with us. The humble birth we remember was God’s reassurance that he has never been anywhere else but with his people. Our salvation is here, and we commemorate this with the joy and excitement of a people who know this to be true. We have Good News to share. We have a Kingdom to build.
Author Caroline Kepnes once wrote, “There is no better boost in the present than an invitation into the future.” Advent is not only a time to anticipate what is to come. It is also a time to be transformed by our anticipation, to see in our image of Christ’s arrival the wholeness and holiness of which we are capable here and now. To make ourselves ready for Christmas is to raise a gift already given and to start a journey already begun.
Eternal Father, as this Advent begins, we look to celebrate when you came to this earth as child and Creator, embracing this world, bringing life and light, love and mercy, into dark and death-filled lives. You revealed your Word in a humble infant. Draw us to your Word in the Christ Child. Give us a new song to sing that will resonate throughout this world. And begin with us today. We make this prayer through Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.