He is coming

  • November 20, 2008
{mosimage}Advent is a religious season that sneaks up on us. Its quiet arrival is drowned out by the noisy commercial hype for Christmas, the Santa Claus parades, shopping, seasonal parties and frenzied preparations for travel and visiting.

Yet, as with so many things in life, Advent is the more important occasion, transcending all those other “must do’s” of this time of year. It, too, is a time of preparation, but of the heart.

Advent is both a public and a private time. It is public in that Jesus Christ, the child born in a manger in Bethlehem, the Son of God, came to save the whole world. Our Scripture readings during Advent testify to the universal nature of the Incarnation.

“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 40:3-5).

This Good News was to be trumpeted to the world. It was meant to change everything. There would be ramifications for all of society.

But, at its very core, the Good News was proclaimed to change us, one person at a time. The Christian message is not a list of doctrines or dogmas, nor is it liturgy or social justice. It is a person. We are meant to have a personal relationship with the Saviour.

At Advent, the Scripture passages are meant for us as individuals, as well as being part of the people of God. We are called to “prepare the way of the Lord” in our own hearts and lives. This calls for more than just raising a cup of good cheer and donating a few more dollars to the nearest charity. It calls for deep conversion.

This is a path that can combine both solitude and communal times. During Advent we should take some time out from the frenzy to retreat into a quiet place for conversation with the Lord — and a two-way conversation at that, one that involves listening to God as well as talking. Then, our church offers ways in which we can join together in our own spiritual preparations, through communal rosaries and the sacrament of Reconciliation, along with the four Sundays of Advent. We should also incorporate our Advent spiritual life into our families, through such practices as special prayers and the Advent wreath.

None of this means we have to stop having our fun; it’s just to remind ourselves of the true meaning of the season.

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