Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent

Advent Wreath
This week, we embark on a real Advent-ure.

Advent is all about hope in the future—a glorious future.

Advent begins the liturgical year, inviting us to meditate on the threefold coming of Jesus. Jesus came to us centuries ago in Bethlehem of Judea; He comes to us now sacramentally, especially in the signs of bread and wine; and He will come again triumphant and glorious at the end time.

And so we pray during this Advent season: Come, Lord Jesus and transform us into new creatures; and renew this planet of ours. “Come, Lord Jesus” is the so-called “maranatha prayer” in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation.

How might we celebrate Advent?

Some families create an advent wreath with four candles and light one candle the first week, two the second week, and so on. And they pray in their own words for the coming of the Messiah into their lives.

Other families make a Jesse Tree to re-experience the story of our salvation as told in the Hebrew Bible. Others might set up a Nativity scene.

And as we reflect upon the Messiah, we might ask ourselves: Do we try our best to do the right thing.

Paul in his letter to the Christian community at Thessalonika in Greece urges us not to so much anticipate the “world to come” that we forget how to live here and now. Yes, Paul says, care for one another, pray earnestly, please God, and be ready.

And in the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus speaks dramatically about “signs”--skies darkening, waters raging, winds roaring-- signs that will signal the coming of Christ with power and glory.

And so Jesus says: change your ways; turn toward God and one another. For the Messiah, the promised One, is in our midst. We bear within ourselves the spark of the divine. We have become by grace what Jesus Christ is by nature: sons and daughters of God.

Be a good-finder this Advent season. Look for the good in ourselves, in other people and in the myriad situations of life.

The Virgin Mary rejoiced in the gifts God gave her and so too should we. Remember that magnificent hymn:
My Soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
Because He the Mighty one has done great things for me.

And look for the good in other people. Someone once wrote that people in many ways are like wildflowers. We can very easily them for granted. But if you have ever picked a wildflower and studied it carefully, you would discover a beauty all its own. So do people.

And finally look for good in the myriad situations of life. When one door closes, another door opens if we pay attention.

Remember: God is the ultimate good-finder. God so loved us that he became one of us. Think of all the people of the Gospel that he met: he found goodness in all of them where others didn't.

Pray this Advent season that God will help those who are sad or depressed or angry to find joy in the birth of the Messiah.


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