Year C: First Sunday in Advent
Today marks the beginning of a new liturgical year - Year C: the Year of Luke. We will look more closely at the Gospel and its writer when we enter Ordinary Time after Christmas but for now, we will focus on Luke’s message for us as we begin this new Year.
Advent is often seen as a time of preparation for Christmas - and certainly, carols are being practised, gifts are being bought, children are making decorations and so on. In the light of the preparations for festivities, today’s Gospel comes as something of a dampener on proceedings. We are preparing to celebrate the feast of Jesus’ birth - and the Gospel speaks of people dying of fear at the horrific events they are witnessing - hardly the stuff of Christmas cheer!
And yet, paradoxically, Jesus says that we are to long for that time - the time of our liberation - the time when we can hold our heads high and stand confident in his presence. How do we pull the two things together?
Advent is, in part, a time of preparation for the feast of Christmas but it is also a time to consider the Second Coming when Christ will establish a Kingdom of justice and integrity. We do not know how this will happen nor when, but it is a prevailing theme throughout the New Testament. It is, perhaps, especially timely now as we begin to be preoccupied with material preparations for the feast of Christmas - and perhaps overlook the spiritual preparations for a greater event.
Suppose Christ returned at Christmas - what of our preparations then? Would we be so careworn that we could not receive him? Would we be so full of Christmas spirit that we would not be in a fit state to welcome him?!
Jesus was a great “party-goer” and had a reputation among some of being a glutton and a drunkard as a consequence. He is not saying that we cannot enjoy life and festivity but is suggesting a sense of proportion. The one who feasted also fasted - knowing both to be part of a healthy physical and spiritual balance.
Advent is our new year and new years lend themselves to resolutions. It is a time to “fast” and reflect on the Coming of Jesus - at Christmas - at the end of time - and in Eucharist. It is a time to see beyond the immediate and the hectic - and gaze on new horizons - our eternal horizons - our eternal destiny.
What does it mean for me?
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