This Sunday is the beginning of Advent, and so marks the beginning of another liturgical year. This coming year our Sunday gospel readings are mostly drawn from the gospel of Matthew.
Advent affords us the opportunity to reflect on the longing and hope that preceded Christ’s birth, just as it beckons us to look forward to Christ’s return at history’s end. In effect, we are positioned between the two comings of Christ – his birth 2000 years ago, and his coming as Savior and Judge at the end of time. In between, however, there are countless ways in which Christ can be said to be always “coming” to us – in the sacraments, especially the Mass, in his word, in the poor and in one another. In all these ways Christ is constantly in breaking human history and our history. Watchfulness, alertness, and ready response should be our posture before all these comings.
I remember going with our mission team to Peru one year. During that mission, we visited a prison to talk to the inmates and pray with them. Some of the prisoners had started a drama group, and during our visit, they put on a little play. It was all about a rich man who receives a message in a dream one night that Jesus would be coming to call on him. So the next day, he waits indoors all day, and receives three visitors: a poor man looking for alms, a sick child asking for money to buy some needed medicine, and a man asking for money to feed his family. The rich man rudely turns them away, saying he has no time for them, as he is expecting a very important “visitor.” At the end of the day, he is very angry that Jesus had not come. But that night, he is shown in another dream that Jesus had in fact come three times- in the persons of a beggar, a sick child and a needy father, and been turned away each time.
This Advent, may we be vigilant with our eyes and ears open for the different ways in which Jesus wants to come into our lives and be ready to receive him, no matter the different guises in which he may choose to drop by for a visit.
Happy Advent everyone!!