Advent a period of love-filled waiting
YES, that’s what the liturgical season of Advent is. It’s a period of a love-filled waiting not only for the most joyous Christmas, the birth of Christ, but also and most especially of the second coming of Christ.
We need to look forward to that coming when Christ gathers us as his people at the end of time, incorporating us into his mystical body and bringing us to where we truly belong—in heaven where we, individually and collectively, will enter into a definitive communion with God, a communion of love in mind and heart.
Christ’s second coming is when we finally complete our earthly sojourn which is meant to be a time of testing, a time of making a choice either to be with God or simply to be by ourselves.
That is when we finally would become “alter Christus,” another Christ, who is the pattern and redeemer of our humanity. That is when we finally become the true image and likeness of God as God himself as wanted us to be. That is when we organically form together with the others the definitive family and people of God with Christ as the head.
We have to be welcoming to Christ in his second coming, ever watchful and ready to receive him when he finally comes. Our watchfulness and readiness should not be spent by simply doing nothing. Rather it should be a watchfulness and readiness that is full of love that is expressed in deeds, in the faithful fulfillment of our duties.
The proper attitude and sentiment during this season of Advent is somehow described in one the Eucharistic prefaces of Advent. “When he comes again in glory and majesty, and all is at last made manifest,’ it says, “we who watch for that day may inherit the great promise in which now we dare to hope.”
We have to learn to live with the hope of attaining our final end, fully united and identified with Christ. And so, we have to learn also how to relate the things that we are doing at any given moment to heaven.
Again, a prayer in one of the Advent Masses expresses the same sentiment. “O Lord,” it says, “as we walk amid passing things, teach us by them to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what endures.”
We have to help everyone to appreciate the real significance of Advent and to live by that spirit. For those who can, let us undertake an effective catechesis. We need to see to it that Advent is not just a time for merry-making and gift-giving. These are the peripherals that should not detract from the central and crucial character of Advent.
Like St. Paul, let us preach constantly, in season and out of season, when people are receptive to our preaching or hostile. Of course, we need to do this with gift of tongues, knowing how to present the same truth to different people with different attitudes.
May our preaching and catechesis be practical and practicable, substantiated with clear indications and concrete examples. May it be attractive and appealing. Given the sensitivity especially of the young people—the millennials and the Generation Z—we need to be very creative and do a lot of adaptation.
Let us also tap those with certain authority in schools, offices, public and private organizations to help out in this task. We need to make Advent a real Advent, not a fictionalized one.