The Advent Season is one that is meant to fill us with hope and joy. The hope that God has not abandoned us but rather is coming again in glory. Just as the people of Israel awaited the coming of the Messiah, and saw that fulfilled with the birth of Jesus, we await his second coming. In his letter to the Romans Saint Paul Reminds us that “Hope will not leave us disappointed.” This is the hope with which we enter the Advent Season. This is a hope that brings joy to our hearts as we recall God’s faithfulness throughout Salvation History. God will continue to be faithful to us, and we can continue to walk in hope and joy.
We can grow in faithfulness and joy by taking the words of Jesus in the Gospel seriously; “Stay awake!” Be attentive to God’s presence and his promise to come again. The preface for the first two weeks of Advent speaks of the Two Comings of Christ; the first coming when he took on flesh and was born into the world, and the second coming when he returns in Glory. Most of our Advent preparation directs us to the beautiful and simple birth of Jesus in the manger. This is our foundation for not losing sight that this baby is our Messiah and Savior. He suffered and died for our sins and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
As we begin Advent let us put ourselves back in time and imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph as they awaited the birth of Jesus. The faith of Mary to say yes to the angel at the Annunciation, and the Faith of Joseph to believe that Mary was indeed virtuous and faithful, and to accept the words of the angel in his dream. They believed, disregarding what the world might say, that God was acting in their lives calling them to be part of something mysterious and beautiful. Leading them to live chaste lives because of the awesome reality of the Annunciation. Where is our faith when we face difficult times? Our challenges are far less than those of Mary and Joseph, but to each of us the situations that challenge our faith are real and difficult. Mary and Joseph are models of faith. They accompany us on our journey of faith, even during the most trying times.
Look at Jesus, God, sitting at the right hand of the Father, who humbles himself to be born into the world and become like us in all things but sin. It takes a perfect love to act in such a perfectly humble way. A love and humility that can only be found in God, and yet we are the beneficiaries of it. There is joy at knowing and appreciating this perfect love of God. As we realize more how he humbled himself for our sake we can be filled with humility as we stand in awe as we experience the incomprehensible love of God.
May we begin Advent by looking within ourselves and reflecting on how God has been and is faithful to us, as well as how we respond to the call to be faithful to God. This might mean stepping back for a week or two from the premature singing of Christmas Carols and decorating and savor this season of preparation. This will hopefully lead us through the four weeks of Advent to a richer and deeper celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and to joyful awaiting for his coming again in glory.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.