This Sunday the Church begins a new liturgical year as we enter the season of Advent. The word ‘Advent’ is taken from the Latin word ‘adventus’, which means ‘coming’. Advent gives us an opportunity to take time to prepare our hearts and minds, as wait in joyful anticipation of Christ’s coming into the world and into our lives, the real reason for the season.
Today’s readings encourage us to place our hope in God’s plan of salvation. He wants to enrich us with the treasures of his grace by welcoming us into eternal life with him. In the Gospel passage from Saint Luke, Jesus describes the coming of the kingdom of God at the end of time. He explains to the disciples how signs will be given both on the earth and in the universe, heavens will be shaken, and then he will come again “they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”. Jesus says that at this time they must stand in confidence and trust in anticipation of what is to come “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand”, and to be alert and ready to meet the Son of Man on that final day of his coming: “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man”.
The message of the Gospel today brings hope, strength and consolation to us, the people of God. By lifting up our souls to Christ we will be free from all worry, confident in the knowledge that we will be united with him forever when he welcomes us with infinite love into heavenly kingdom. Jesus wants us to face the future with confidence, trusting in God’s providence and living the Christian life with him. He wants to makes his home in each of us, nourishing us with his love so that we can grow in holiness as we prepare to be heirs of eternal life. As we await his glorious return at the end of our lives and at the end of time, the season of Advent gives us time to reflect and be open to the coming of Christ in ourselves, in others, and in the everyday occurrences of life.
“Advent is the season of the presence and expectation of the eternal. For this very reason, it is in a particular way a period of joy, an interiorized joy that no suffering can diminish. It is joy in the fact that God made himself a Child. This joy, invisibly present within us, encourages us to journey on with confidence. A model and support of this deep joy is the Virgin Mary, through whom we were given the Infant Jesus. May she, a faithful disciple of her Son, obtain for us the grace of living this liturgical season alert and hardworking, while we wait. Amen!”
(Pope Benedict XVI 28 November 2009)