Meaning of Advent

- Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

We have just ended a liturgical year with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Christ the King. We are now beginning a new one with the season of Advent, the proximate preparation for the birth of Christ at Christmas.

The immediate thought that comes to mind in this transition of the old and new liturgical years is that while we should have the mind of ending well and also beginning well, we should neither forget that this cycle of life is meant to catapult us to the eternal life where there will be no more changes of seasons and shifts of days and nights.

We have to understand then that the season of Advent implies that we have to learn how to begin again very well. What is presumed is that we have a global picture of our life.

We ought to know the different constitutive elements of our life here on earth as well as their relations among each other. We have to distinguish as well as relate the different dimensions of our life, like the material and the spiritual, the temporal and the eternal, the natural and the supernatural, the mundane and the sacred, the theory and the praxis, piety and morals, work and prayer, etc.

With Advent, we are reminded that it is Christ who enables us to get this global picture, since he is the very pattern of God's creation, and especially of us, as well as our savior after we messed up God's original creation through our sin.

Advent tries to arouse in us this longing for Christ who should not be just a historical character buried in the past. He is alive, for he is God who lives in eternity and thus is living even up to now. He is always a contemporary of everyone of us, irrespective of what era we pass through this world.

In a world sunk in its own fantasy, all but locked out from God, its creator, there is a great need for us to recover our proper bearing and to restore the proper place of God in our life. Advent precisely gives us another opportunity to do readjustments in our life to conform ourselves more faithfully to our ultimate dignity as children of God.

This God has revealed himself to us and remains with us through Christ in the Holy Spirit. It should not be difficult for us to meet, know and deal with him. If we do our part, we can readily see him, since on the part of God, everything is already given for us to enter into an intimate relation with him.

The questions to ask ourselves are: Are we praying and making an effort to know him? Do we try to be familiar with God's word, left in Sacred Scripture and taught authoritatively by the Church Magisterium? Do we avail of the sacraments which are the effective signs of grace and of Christ himself, especially in the Holy Eucharist?

Or are we still indifferent to this need, still dominated by our laziness or doubts and skepticism, or worse, by some worldly ideologies that undermine our faith and piety and lead us to agnosticism and atheism?

We have to understand Advent as a time for conversion, for growing in our knowledge and love for Christ. It's not just one more season of the year, marked simply be decorating our places with Christmas ornaments. Advent gives us another beginning, another chance clean up the past and start new with a clean slate.

What can help is to pay close attention to the prayers and readings of the liturgy of the season of Advent. There we can taste afresh the preparation of the coming of Christ, our Redeemer, the drama and the mysterious ways God uses to pursue his plan for our redemption.

We should accompany Mary and Joseph in their involvement in the coming of Christ. They can actually show us how to prepare for Christ's birth, especially spiritually, so that Christ too can be born in each one of us.

Human as we are, we need to feel all these things. The spirit of Advent is not simply an intellectual, spiritual affair. It involves our whole humanity, down to our feelings, passions, instincts and senses. The expectation and longing so characteristic of Advent should be felt as much as possible, and made to trigger the appropriate actions.

Advent should be an effective occasion to bring us back to God. When the world seems to be drifting away from him, Advent can start a new journey back to our Creator and Father, through Christ.



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