We now begin the season of Advent and the in fact the entire liturgical year. Advent is the four week time of preparation for the Christmas season. The term advent comes from the Latin phrase ad venire, which means “to come toward” and we prepare for Jesus coming to us and all the world. As with Catholic liturgy in general, there is a reflection on the past, a focus on present faith and works, and an anticipation of the future.
In particular, during the Advent season, we recall how for many centuries faithful Jews awaited a Messiah to come and fulfill the promises made to their people and bring the kingdom of God to all of the world. They desired to hear again the thundering words of the prophets to inspire them to greater understanding and reverence. They anticipated that God would send forth His healing power and establish His presence among them now more than ever. And they longed for a king who would build a realm of holiness and unity among all nations.
Recalling these holy desires, culminating in the preaching of St. John the Baptist, the season of Advent especially calls for us to develop a holy longing in our hearts for the presence of Jesus Christ, who does come to us in the liturgies, and above all in the Holy Eucharist. We are meant to listen carefully to the Scriptures and the words of the Church and the saints and hear God speaking to us. We are called to seek purification from sin and a sense of God’s glory among us. And we should ask how it is that we are building up God’s kingdom on earth.
With regard to the future, we do not know when our lives or human history will reach their fulfillment. However, especially during this season, we should ask ourselves how we are preparing to meet Jesus Christ face to face one day and how our lives of faith will look when all nations are brought before the throne of God. To the degree that God’s grace has been at work in our lives, we thank Him for it. And to the degree that we are unprepared for Jesus and anxious about His judgement, we hear His voice calling us to repentance and healing. Overall, we ask how we are responding to the call of Isaiah the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Is. 40:3; John 1:23.