Advent Sunday Reflection

Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas lights are popping up everywhere, radio stations and stores are playing yuletide songs and red and green sweaters are once again being worn. Depending on who you ask, these next coming weeks can be viewed as a youthful time, as a time of much preparation or, for the rather cranky, as a time of waiting in lines.

The Church calls this time of year Advent, the four week period before Christmas during which we do what Jesus tells us to do in today’s Gospel: we remain “watchful” and “alert” for the coming of Our Lord. As Christians we can maintain this sacred meaning of Advent while also seeing this period in the way our culture sees it: as a youthful time, as a time of preparation and as a time of waiting. But we can give these realities a different and a holy meaning.

Advent is a youthful time. Advent is a time of hope, and hope is born of confidence, and confidence is the virtue of youth. St. Thomas Aquinas says that “youth is a cause of hope ... [because] for young people, the future is long and the past is short.” Christian, supernatural hope is different from all other hope, because it is not restricted to youth. In fact, it gives us such a long future that no matter what our age, our past seems short. And so for everyone, kids of all ages, Advent is a time of youthfulness because what lies ahead of us is nothing short of our Eternal God.

Advent is a time of preparation. Since God is coming to us, we have to get ready for Him. We have to prepare ourselves. When Christmas arrives, our souls should be in order, ready to receive Christ. He should find us just as He should find us in our final encounter with Him. So Advent is a time of conversion, a time of turning back to Christ. And there is no more sure way of conversion than in receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There is no better way to prepare to meet Jesus Christ. And it is never too late to return to that sacrament.

Finally, Advent is a time of waiting. But we don’t have to be grumpy while we wait. We wait with patience and hope, because we wait for the coming of Christ. And not only as He comes to us at Christmas, but also as He will come again at the end of the world. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “By sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful [today] renew their ardent desire for His second.” And we are full of certainty, because we already possess that which we wait for. We wait for Jesus Christ who is already present with us, especially here in the Eucharist.

This Advent may we, together as a family of faith, keep our eyes focused on Jesus and the youthful hope that He gives us; when we find ourselves busily preparing, may we think of Jesus who wants us to prepare to meet Him; and while we are waiting in lines, may we call to mind Jesus who also waits for us to come to Him and meet Him in the sacraments.

In Christ,

Monsignor Tom Powers, Parochial Adminstrator of St. Ann Parish