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Is the Advent Attitude Artificial?

posted Nov 30, 2017, 10:23 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 30, 2017, 10:23 PM ]
- Fr Anthony Charanghat

Advent might look a little artificial! After all, Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, was born 2000 years ago, and we are still awaiting Him. Advent, however, is not an exercise in make-believe. Rather, it recognises the fact and the truth that the entry of Christ into every part of our life is not yet finished. 

Each year, we discover that there is more of our life to unlock to Christ. That is why Advent each year is about expectantly and actively waiting for new light, new life, new birth of Christ into our life. This is the reason for recalling Isaiah’s active longing for God’s coming as an appropriate attitude for Advent. 

Isaiah’s reading is about the anguished outburst of a desperate people. Having exhausted all possible human alternatives, Isaiah cries out, "Why do you let us wander from your ways? Tear open the heavens and come down with the mountains quaking… we have become unclean, all our good deeds are like dirty rags." We are in need of Advent laundering - repentance. 

The prophet cries out on behalf of his people whose lives are in ruin. “You are the potter, we are the clay. Come down and shape us up." It is the prayer for a Saviour of the O.T. people who felt impotent, separated from God, because of their sins. We are called to make this spirit of penitential prayer our own at Advent. 

St Paul tells the Corinthian Christians and us that the great intervention has come and to reach out for the new gifts and grace of the Lord: “You lack no spiritual gift... He will strengthen you to the end. God has called you to fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ." The great gifts of revival, renewal and transformation that the Saints have received are available to us through the life of the Church. 

The Lord teaches us in the Gospel of Mark to ‘Wake up and be on the Watch.’ We can not afford to be asleep and blind. The reading refers of course to His coming in glory. But it can also apply to the present, to the ‘now’. It is easy for us to limit His coming to the past 2000 years ago, or to the future when the Lord will come at the end of history and to ignore the ways the Lord comes to us today. 

Each time Scripture is read, the Lord speaks to us. Each time the Mass is celebrated, the Lord is present with His cleansing redeeming love for the Church and for us. Each time we come to Communion, He pledges eternal life to us who live the meaning of that Communion. 

As we light the candles of the Advent Wreath and their light becomes strong each week of Advent, the presence of the light of Christ becomes stronger. The Lord was born once and for all at Bethlehem. Advent and Christmas is not about waiting to celebrate the rebirth of Christ every year. It is about the rebirth of faith, the rebirth of our commitment to Christ and His Church. 

The first Sunday of Advent—the start of a new Church year—is a good time to make a more honest self-scrutiny, as we prepare for Christmas confession. Maybe there is some bridge-building we need to do in our life. In this year that marks the first World Day of the Poor, we must reach out in concrete acts of mercy to the marginalised, to children who are abused, to women who suffer violence, to families in conflict, and to those in the throes of hunger, famine and homelessness caused by the ravages of war and natural calamities. 

Advent calls us to watch for the movement of God in our life.