|Diocese of St. Augustine|
CAMPUS PADRE Offers food for thought
The truth is, even in the Church we can and do lose sight of the real purpose of these weeks of Advent leading up to the celebration of the birth of our Lord. We can get caught up in the secularized sentimentality of it all and gloss over the opportunity that the Season of Advent sets before us. An opportunity to recognize our need for a savior, in the same way Isaiah articulated that need.
Our human story has had two periods, we are in the third and it will culminate with a fourth. The first period was from the dawn of Creation until Original Sin. The second period, was lived between the loss of our ‘original innocence’ and the Incarnation. It came to a close on that Holy Night, that Silent Night in a Bethlehem manger where Shepherds quaked at his sight and pilgrim kings brought gifts for the newborn King of kings. In today’s Second Reading St. Paul reminds us that it was on the occasion of this first coming of the Son of God incarnate, who was born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the prayerful lamentation of Isaiah was answered. The long expected Messiah had come, sent by the Father for love of us and in whose willing sacrifice we are invited to be redeemed, grace filled, enriched in every way.
We are members of the generations of the third age of human history, the age of the Church and of Grace. This is the period described by the parable in today's Gospel passage, where Jesus reminds us to take care of everything until he returns, until he comes again at the end of time when he will take all creation to himself.
Saint Paul also spoke of the Second Coming, and the beginning of the fourth period of human history when the old heavens and earth will pass away. When evil will be banished forever, and those who lived and died in friendship with Christ will enter into their everlasting reward. Jesus encourages us, in the Gospel, to look forward to his second coming and the everlasting joy it will bring. But, we are also reminded of the need to be ready, alert, to be awake. Not even the Son knows the hour or the day, and so neither do we know when the Lord will come to call us.
The coming of the Messiah, the Son of God in time and flesh, upon which in the Season of Advent we are invited to reflect, brings the second age of human history to an end. It is that first coming that the reading from Isaiah looks forward to with anticipation. “Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!” cries the prophet because he understands that the people desperately need God and have forsaken the covenant in so many ways. He continues, “We had long been rebels against you. We were all like people unclean, all that integrity of ours like filthy clothing. We have all withered like leaves and our sins blew us away like the wind.” For the people, he articulated the feeling of abandonment to sin and their inner desire that God would once again remember His people and set things right.
St Paul tells us that we must depend on God's grace if our lives are to be filled with the meaning and joy we thirst for; we can't do it on our own. That, as the Prophet Isaiah says, we must be like clay, the work of the hands of God who is the potter. We must be soft and malleable, and allow God to make of us something beautiful. Only when we trust God and are obedient to his commandments do we let him turn our lives into the beautiful works of art that we can become.
So, the Season of Advent is a time “When the Church makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.” However, if we stop at the surface and do not read these words within the whole tradition of the Church and Scripture leading up to Advent, we will not have within us that which makes it possible to in fact prepare for Christmas when Christ's first coming to us is remembered and as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. We will not, as that section of the Catechism concludes, authentically be able to celebrate the precursor's birth and martyrdom, through which the Church unites herself to his desire, that "He must increase, but I must decrease.”
As we enter into this Season of Advent, today’s ‘Words of God remind us that God is with us each and every day of our lives. That we were not left alone, Emmanuel, ‘God is with us’. The abiding presence of the Son, through the work of the Holy Spirit, which reflects the ongoing presence of God since the dawn of creation.
In order to really celebrate Christmas, which is a celebration of how much God loves us, we must pass through a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. Essential to that time of preparation, is always, to more fully ‘repent and believe, for the Kingdom of God is at hand’! Review our priorities, our relationships, the fruitfulness of our faith, the depth of our love of God and Neighbor. Repent for what we have done and what we have failed to do, through our own fault our most grievous fault. Renew our commitment to God. Rejoice in his coming in history, rejoice in his being with you in your daily life, rejoice and eagerly anticipate his second coming! The only way to be free to rejoice, is to be free from sin. This is why our church year begins with the Season of Advent.
The Season of Advent is a time to be enlivened, united, quiet, moderate, longing and full of expectation… however, those must be borne, they must rise from our increased awareness of and regret for, the reason for Our Lord’s First Coming at Christmas: our sins and his desire to redeem us from them. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is not just a moment with a special place during Advent… it is at the heart of Advent which is without doubt, according to the firm teaching and tradition of the Church… A Season of reconciling preparation in order to join fully in the choruses praising and with great joy, adore him.
In today’s Gospel Our Lord establishes the tone for Advent...
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.