Today we begin the season of Advent and with this we begin the new liturgical year. On this day the church invites us to be ready and prepared to receive the Lord. Advent means waiting and we wait eagerly for someone we love, we care and we are ready to invest our time on him. In the liturgical calendar, the season of Advent means a joyful waiting, a waiting for someone with love. Here we wait for Jesus and there is the eagerness within us to receive him as we look forward to this great event of God becoming man. During this season we anticipate and await the coming of our Jesus.
There are three aspects of Jesus' coming into the world. We look at the past as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus in History that took place 2000 years ago. Secondly, we look to the present as we prepare ourselves to receive him in our daily lives. We accept him in the Word and in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Finally we look into the future and await his coming at the end of times in majesty and glory to judge the world.
Therefore the focus of Advent is by no means limited to just Christ's first coming. An equal, if not more important theme found in the Advent Liturgy is the Second Coming of Christ when he comes again to judge and reunite the world. This is a time of great anticipation as we wait for someone special. We wait for Jesus as his coming contains promise, love, preparation, alertness, reflectiveness, prayer, new beginnings and fulfillment.
We should also remember that the nearing Christmas offers us yet another opportunity to reflect about the 2nd coming of Christ. The word 'advent' in English comes from the Latin, 'adventus' which means, 'coming'. Now the Greek word for 'adventus' is 'Parousia'. And parousia is often used to refer to the 2nd coming of Christ. The gospel text of today once again reminds us of the parousia: "And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Lk 21:28). The 2nd reading of today from the letter of St Paul to Thessalonians tells us how we must prepare ourselves for the second coming of Jesus, just by being open to the Grace of God. It says, "And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones" (1The 3:13). When the 1st letter to the Thessalonians was being written (around 50 AD), most of the apostles were still alive, and the Christians believed that Christ would come again in their own life time. Therefore, this letter has a strong sense of the immediacy of parousia – the 2nd coming of Christ. However, I think, the 1st letter to the Thessalonians should not be read without reference to the 2nd letter to the Thessalonians. The latter letter becomes more realistic about the 2nd coming of Christ, and invites us to "go on quietly working and earning the food that [we] eat"… and never become tired of doing what is right (2The 3:12), and that Christ will come in his own time. As for coming he will surely come (2The 2:1-8). As we hopefully wait for his second coming we are supported by the Word of God and the Sacraments. Let us take the time to contemplate on this. Let us prepare ourselves – even through the sacrament of reconciliation – to recognize Jesus who comes.BACK TO LIST