Advent is not a time of celebration, but a time of waiting and preparation for the Lord’s birth. The word advent means coming or arrival, and so during Advent we prepare for the Lord’s coming. Jesus’ first coming was at Christmas. Today’s gospel reminds us of Jesus’ second coming, at the end of time. The reading is frightening if we have put our trust in anything other than Jesus Christ. But for those who have put their security in him, it is a time of redemption. As Jesus says, “stand up straight and raise your heads, for your ransom is near at hand.”

How can we be ready for the Lord to come into our lives? The second reading tells us that we have learned how to conduct ourselves in “a way pleasing to God.” Paul exhorts us to continue in this way and to make greater progress. We can’t think that we have already made enough progress. The gospel warns us to be on guard lest our spirits become bloated and drowsy, producing a lack of attention to the things of God. It is ironic that at the very time of year when the Church calls us to be more ready for the coming of Jesus, the world’s idea is the opposite, and we are tempted with being busy preparing for Christmas by shopping, partying, traveling, etc. The result is that we may forget about our spiritual readiness for Christmas. The Church warns us at the very beginning of Advent not to let this happen by getting caught up in the anxieties of life. We can’t avoid the busyness of this time of year, but we must remember that our spiritual readiness is our priority.

The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is the hope of the Church and the world. The secular world is still covered with so much darkness. Materialism and cultural disorder can strike fear, even terror, in our hearts. No human force can save us. Our hope is in God’s covenant love coming to us from above. The Promised One of Revelation brings us true hope. He answers the deepest needs of our person. He opens our hearts to believe. His presence is realized in faith alone.

My soul yearns for the Lord’s presence. There is a desire for healing and for wholeness within me. Even though I try to follow the Lord, my life is still damaged by sin. The desire of my heart is to imitate Mary and say, “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.” As my spirit is awakened to his saving presence I am led into the truth of his unconditional love. It is here, in the interior space of my being, that I can experience the fulfillment of his promise of restoration for myself and for the world.

Questions for Reflection: Do I live in the anticipation, the expectation, for the Lord to be my true source of life? Do I believe Christ truly desires to penetrate my heart? Am I willing to allow him to penetrate me? In what ways do I block Christ’s light from shining through me to those around me?

Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 12, no. 1. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.