Preparing For Advent...and Beyond
“At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God's own love and concern” ~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta
If we were to play a game of word association and I was to say the word Advent, I would imagine a number of Catholics might respond with the word "prepare" or "preparation,” that preparation being done of course in anticipation of the holiest of Christian Holidays, Christmas. The birth of our Savior.
The readings chosen in support of the Advent Season however advise us to think even bigger. Deeper. These passages challenge us to reflect upon the preparation of the second coming of Jesus, one in which He will return as the conquering king, a far cry from the baby clad in swaddling clothes born in a manger. This is heady stuff for those among in our midst who consider the pursuit of the perfect sugar cookie recipe to be their most pressing holiday pursuits.
The prophet Jeremiah kicks off the Advent Season as he boldly proclaims "The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; that is what they shall call her: The Lord our justice".
Luke's Gospel goes on in similarly poignant fashion:
“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 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 redemption is at hand.’”
Many Fundamentalists might argue that these signs have begun and that our Nation is spiraling towards full "dismay mode.” The near collapse of our financial system a few short years ago coupled with the utter destruction wrought by hurricanes, wildfires and other assorted natural disasters have many wondering when the locusts and toads will be arriving.
But wait, there's more.....
"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".
Once again, the theme of preparedness is center stage, coupled perhaps with a subtle reminder to enjoy the Christmas Eggnog in moderation. Enlightened followers of Christ spend less time preoccupied with attempting to predict the Second Coming ~ "but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." ~ (Matthew 24:26) than we do in our efforts to prepare our minds, bodies and spirits for the day, whenever it may be. We long for the day when "God will wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Revelation 21:4), a seemingly appropriate Biblical text in light of the overall Apocalyptic vibe at play here.
So perhaps we can all reflect upon who Jesus is to us this Advent season. From the newborn baby in the manger to the suffering servant who died on the cross for our sins to the triumphant King who vows to return in order to bring His faithful servants back home to paradise, Jesus is all those things and more.
During this Advent Season, focus on the “more.” You may be surprised what you uncover.