As human beings we spend so much of our lives waiting. We wait in queues and wait for transport; we wait for doctor’s and dentist’s appointments. We await the birth of child and a new member of the family. We wait for times of celebrations like weddings and birthdays. But we also wait in anguished times too; perhaps through the illness or death of a loved one. And we each await the certainty of our own death too. So it seems to be one of the defining experiences of each human life is that it is lived through waiting.
It should be no surprise therefore that at the heart of our spiritual journey is the notion of waiting for God. This has been central to the writings of both the Old Testament, and the New Testament. For all Catholics, we are called to recognise this experience of prayerful waiting for God in the liturgical season of Advent, which begins today, and leads us to the great feast of Christmas when Jesus came to share our human condition and to offer us the gift of redemption.
The importance of this season is that each of us is asked to focus on the coming of our Redeemer. The word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, which means coming. For us there are two aspects which we are invited to reflect on. Firstly, when the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present the ancient spiritual sense of faith and expectancy of the coming of the Messiah. Secondly, by sharing spiritually in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, we also express our desire for His second coming.
Therefore, on one hand, we reflect backwards and are encouraged to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s first coming into this world. We ponder again the great mystery of the incarnation when our Lord humbled Himself, taking on our humanity, and entered our time and space to free us from sin. On the other hand, we recall in the Creed that our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead and that we must be ready to meet Him.
This time of Advent, which marks the beginning of the Church’s liturgical year, is for each of us an opportunity to make a new spiritual beginning and to learn, through our parish liturgy and through our personal and family prayer, to become more conscious of our desire for Our Redeemer and to wait for His coming into our lives and our world.
It is intended above all to be a season of joy and hope for us, a time when we deepen our trust that, no matter our struggles and weaknesses, Christ Our Lord will come into our hearts and into our lives in more ways than we can possibly imagine. Let us pray for each other during this Holy Season, and for our whole parish community, that in all our experiences of waiting, we can be completely assured of God’s love for us, and know in our hearts that He will be forever present to us, both now and for all eternity.
Fr Gerard, CSsR