The four weeks before Christmas are the season of Advent. The atmosphere is one of joyful expectation – looking forward to the coming of Christ. But we are celebrating more than the coming of Christ as a baby two thousand years ago. We are looking forward to the coming of the Risen adult Christ to us during the next four weeks.
The prayer for the early part of Advent is “come Lord Jesus, come!” Jesus is God. He is active on our behalf and he comes bringing gifts. He said “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”. He comes bringing us Go’s love, forgiveness and power. He gives meaning and confidence to our lives. He says with love: “Trust in God still and trust in me”, so we say “Come. Lord Jesus”.
On the Second Sunday of Advent we are told “prepare the way of the Lord”. What steps can we take to open the door of our hearts to Christ. It seems to me that the first step is to make some time each day for prayer. Daily prayer is our life line to God. The Marriage Encounter Movement has a slogan – “The key to a good relationship is communication”. That means spending time together, talking and especially listening to one’s spouse. Advent is a time for deepening one’s spousal relationship with God by spending time with him and listening to him. This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!
On the third Sunday of Advent the message which is put before us is joy. As St Paul writes on his letter to the Philippians: “I want you to be always happy in the Lord. I repeat what I want is your happiness”. When Jesus comes to us he gives us the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of love. The Spirit makes us aware of the Father’s love and makes us cry out “Abba” Father. This Spirit of love prompts us and gives us the impulse to love others. Keeping God’s commandments is the only path to real joy. In the Last Supper discourse (John 15) Jesus says “I have told you this that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete”. Also God has taught us “what the Spirit brings is love, joy, peace.”
As we move towards the latter part of Advent Mary is put before us as the model of preparing for the coming of Christ. She was conceived without sin so that she would be a worthy, sinless dwelling place for her Son, the Eternal Word. So too we are called to be sinless to prepare for the coming of Christ to us. We are called to repent and be cleansed of our sins. That is why it is so fitting that we go to Confession as part of our preparing for Christ’s coming to us. In fact, during this season we are reminded of the separation of good people from bad people in the Final Judgement.
Our Advent preparation will be truly fruitful if we renew our daily prayer, repent and go to Confession and reach out to those in various kinds of needs whom we can help