“Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)
The above verse follows the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids. Like the bridesmaids, we are challenged to stay awake and be ready for Christ’s return. The word “Advent” is from the Latin Adventus, meaning “going before or coming,” “presence,” and “arrival.” Advent begins with Evening Prayer of the Sunday closest to November 30, and ends after mid-afternoon prayer on Christmas Eve. During this season, which includes four Sundays, we
- prepare for Christmas, when we remember Christ’s first coming to us, and
- direct our hearts and minds to await Christ’s second coming at the end of time.
Like John the Baptist, we are to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts and in our communities. The paschal mystery is present in this season:
- Jesus came 2,000 years ago,
- he comes among us today, and
- he will return. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
Waiting isn’t easy
Waiting for an area of our lives to be fulfilled can be trying. Advent, which is a time of preparation and great expectation, can help us to get better at waiting. We can use the scriptures to inspire our reflections and to give us peace and hope in our waiting. Perhaps you are waiting for a loved one to return, or are hoping for reconciliation in your family or at work. Perhaps you are waiting for truth to be upheld and justice to be restored. Use the weeks of Advent to relate the events of your life to the lives of various biblical figures:
- Mary visits Elizabeth
- the birth of John the Baptist,
- Joseph’s disbelief and later change of heart, or
- the birth of Jesus.
Advent is also a wonderful time to meditate on the need to trust God. As we reflect on the return of Jesus in our lives, we may think about the various types of “returns” we await: the return of joy, of love, of health, of sustenance. The birth of Christ reminds us that all creation will be restored and made new. Our wait times are part of this collective birthing process. Trust in God is the remedy for anxiety during the waiting time. Preparation coupled with trust leads to an increase in inner peace. God grant us peace in our waiting.
Source, Josephine Lombardi, Living with the Liturgical Year (Novalis, Toronto: 2011), 14-16.