Advent has a kind of quiet dignity and a call to patiently awaiting God’s coming into our human lives. And, let’s face it we don’t like to wait; we need patience and strength in facing the realities of our lives that stretch forward into our future. Often enough the reality of our lives confound us with difficulties. I was speaking with a man recently who, only three weeks previously, had open-heart surgery and he was beginning an exercise program to aid in his healing. I admired him for taking those steps in a long healing process and hoped that I could be as patient and positive as I found him if I were in his situation. I imagined his patiently awaiting healing as an Advent experience. What are those “Advent” moments that we encounter in our days and how can I find God in them?
In the first reading in today’s liturgy, the prophet Isaiah speaks God’s word of blessing associated with Jerusalem (the city of peace) and the attraction felt by the Israelites as they came to the mountain of God to hear the “instructions in the ways of the Lord.” Walking in the light of the Lord meant to Isaiah striving for peace; the people would “beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks” and not “train for war again” if they walk in the light of the Lord.
Scripture commentators speak of the “three” comings of Jesus. The word Advent connotes awaiting something and when applied to Jesus refers equally to his coming as an infant born of Mary in Bethlehem; to his continued advent in our lives as we receive Jesus more deeply in our hearts; and finally, to the ultimate coming in glory as the “Son of Man” at the end of the world. The Advent liturgies call us to consider all three of these “comings” of Jesus: celebrating with joy his birth to Mary and Joseph; receiving him gladly present to us each moment of our lives; and awaiting his coming in glory as the triumphantly loving Brother and Lord of our lives.
The gospel reading references the third coming of Jesus today. Jesus refers to the time before the flood when, except for Noah, people were basically unaware. They went about living their ordinary lives (“eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage”) and, to their utter surprise the “flood came and carried them away.” Jesus says that is the way it will be in the end days. And, since we do not know the time the Lord will come, we are to “stay awake!”
The readings in our liturgy today remind us that as we go about our daily activities that we need to be aware of God’s goodness and love in the person of Jesus.
Lord, give us the patience and strength to focus on you as we await the magnificence of your love deepening in our hearts. Keep us faithful to the season of Advent so that we can recognize the “advents” that come to us as gifts from your hands. Help us to be aware of your goodness and the surprising ways that you come to us. Bless us during this time of Advent as we open ourselves to you anticipating your presence to us in Jesus our brother and Lord.
A special thanks to Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J. for over ten years of faithfully writing the Sunday Daily Reflections for this site. Fr. Gillick will continue to do reflections, along with the other reflection writers, now able to share weekday reflections. The Sunday reflections will now be written by a variety of our writers. Check out the rich resource of our Daily Reflection Archives where we have past reflections going back more than ten years.
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