“THOUGH THE LORD HAS ESTABLISHED THE SIGNS OF THE COMING, THE TIME OF THEIR FULFILLMENT HAS NOT BEEN PLAINLY REVEALED. THESE SIGNS HAVE COME AND GONE WITH A MULTIPLICITY OF CHANGE; MORE THAN THAT, THEY ARE STILL PRESENT. THE FINAL COMING IS LIKE THE FIRST.”
(An Advent Sourcebook, p. 24)
And so we begin another Advent! It seems the seasons come upon us too fast. While there is all this preparation for Christmas, we can’t forget the Season of Advent. This is a time of preparation, not just for Christmas, but for when the Lord returns again. Will we be prepared or will he catch us sleeping? We begin Advent with the blessing and lighting of the Advent wreath, a reminder of these next four weeks. The color in the church has changed from the green of Ordinary Time to that of blue for Advent. This is because Advent is a season of hope, a reminder of what to expect when he returns. It is also the season of Mary, a major character of the season, as well as a sign of hope and expectation for us all. Mary is the one who waited with hope for her Son to be born, and who endured his public ministry, his execution and death, and rejoiced in his resurrection. She exemplifies all that we hope for, not just dur- ing Advent, but during each season. Mary also stands as a model of fidelity to the Lord, of strength and of a willingness to cooperate with God’s plan, even though she may not have known its implications.
So, what do we hope to accomplish during this Advent? Will this season be different that previous ones? Or will it be the same, hoping that it will end quickly so that we can celebrate Christmas? The church is telling us to watch and wait with patience, for the Lord is already present and will come again. This time of the year offers us an opportunity to understand the impact that Jesus has on our lives and on the world, and this is always something in which to rejoice and celebrate. But we have to allow our- selves to be patient, and to recognize the signs of his presence here and now, even as we await the signs of his return.
The readings for the season reflect the opportunity to watch, wait and celebrate the ongoing encounter with our God in Christ Jesus, his Son. Besides Mary, the other characters we meet this season are John the Baptist and Isaiah, who call us to pay attention as events are changing, a reminder of the goodness and fidelity of our God.
Sometimes, though, it is difficult for us to be patient. We have instant news and communication, as our world has grown smaller. We want things done yesterday, so that we can get on with our lives and the business at hand. Yet, we are reminded during this season to stop, pay attention to what signs of God’s presence are all around us, as we wait for him to return in glory. Fortunately, we don’t know when that time will be because it may frighten us into panic, as we would not know what to do. As one of the songs of Advent states: “Patience, People.”
~ FR. JOE