Happy New Year!
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
I think many in our world today fall into this reality, many don’t know (or reject) what comes at the end of our lives and end up living without a direction in life. As Catholics we know what our end is: eternal life in heaven or eternal punishment in hell. This means that there are certain paths to get to these ends and God, our Heavenly Father, desires us to be with Him eternally in heaven, which is the only thing that will truly fulfill us. Advent is a privileged time to look at our lives and make changes to live in the light and love of God to journey on the path to eternal life. Advent calls us in a particular way to wait and prepare.
Waiting is a hard thing to do, but that is what Advent is all about and it is necessary. I would suggest that Advent encourages us to wait in 3 different aspects. First, Advent is a bit of a paradox when you really stop to think about it because we are waiting for something that has already happened. That seems bizarre, but it’s true. We await the birth of Christ that happened 2,000 years ago. This aspect of Advent will be reflected on the closer we get to Christmas (the shift happens on December 17 and following). Advent also calls us to wait and prepare for another coming of Christ, we wait for the end times, the second coming of the Lord. This specifically is what Jesus reminds us of in the Gospel this past Sunday as he describes the second coming of the Lord as a Master of a house leaving on a journey and coming back at an unknown hour and the servants being tasked to be ready for his unknown arrival home.
The second coming of the Lord will come at an unknown hour and we risk losing eternal life if we are not ready. Jesus urges us to be prepared for it, to stay awake for it, to wait for it. Just as the servants of the house are called to be ready for the master’s arrival, we too are called to be ready for Jesus’ second coming. But how exactly are we to ready ourselves? This touches on the third aspect of Advent. Advent, while it is a time of waiting for the past event of Christ’s birth and is a waiting for the future end times, is also a call to wait fully in the PRESENT. The problem is that in our modern world we have lost the ability to wait. Things like the abundant use of Amazon Prime reflect the modern world’s lack of desire to wait and avoidance of waiting (not that free 2-day shipping is bad by any means, I use it too!), but often our world lives on instant gratification and unfortunately this leads a lot of people into sin. Jesus calls us to come back to this waiting because it is necessary. The waiting Jesus calls us to will change our hearts and direct us toward him.
Jesus does not mean a simple passive waiting, however. Jesus does not tell us to sleep the time of waiting away, rather he says, “May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” Jesus means active waiting, which means a constant conversion within ourselves. While we wait we are tasked with orientating our entire lives to Christ. We are called to turn away from our sin and to see Christ in each and every aspect of our lives and to live in relationship with Him. This waiting cannot be wasted. We need this waiting period to be able to turn our lives toward Christ and to allow him to enter our lives. This waiting is the time we need to grow in our spiritual lives because it gives us time to pray and grow in our relationship with the Lord. It gives us time to reflect and look at our lives and realize our utter dependence on God. Advent gives us this time we need to focus on our relationship with God by that interior conversion.
Advent is more than simply waiting for Christmas, it is a period of time that encourages us to look at our own lives and see where we are in our readiness for the Lord in the present. Are we truly ready to let Christ enter our hearts at Christmas? As we continue in this Advent season I encourage you to be counter-cultural. Wait for Christmas and the Second Coming WITH Jesus. Look at where in your life you are resisting Jesus entering your life and pray for the grace to let Jesus enter there. Pray for the grace to allow Jesus to enter you lives fully and change your hearts. Receive Jesus in your hearts and allow Him to wait with you during this Advent season.