We, Christians always celebrate Christ but especially when He gave everything on the cross. The Mass is the greatest celebration of the death and resurrection of Our Lord. We call that celebration Easter.
We make preparations for that celebration and that is why we have a specific time to do it: Lent. We remember the 40 days of Jesus praying in the desert, we do our best to emulate Him.
Because of the gift of the resurrection is huge we need to learn to appreciate it. If it is too rich of a gift the Easter season will continue in time and we will call it the Paschal Time.
We have Lent (the days before Holy Week until the Easter Vigil) and Easter (fifty days until Pentecost) which are two very important Liturgical times.
These are the two oldest Liturgical times that we have as Christians. The first thing they celebrated is what we celebrate: the death of Jesus filled with love for us, and His resurrection which is the forgiveness of our sins and the source of our hope and joy.
After a while, some ages, the contemplation of the mystery of Christ starts to help the first Christians to discover other richness such as the Incarnation and Birth of Jesus.
The Gospels tell us of the circumstances that preceded the birth of Christ. They are many reasons to celebrate as we see in the readings, symbols, and new translation of the Roman Missal. What we have is the desire and hunger of centuries for the Savior. Not only hope or desire from ages past but also our desire now because we too are in need of Him.
As you can see we also have another pair of Liturgical times: Advent, the one we are starting today until Christmas (a very short three weeks). That is a time of joy for His birth. We also celebrate the Epiphany, a manifestation to the poor and strangers.
The word advent is an entire catechesis. It comes from the word “adventus” which means “the coming”. Advent is a time to prepare for someone’s coming. Is this the memory of the first Christmas? Is it just a nice way of celebrating Jesus's birthday? Yes, but it is more than that. When we celebrate His coming we also remember that we are in need of Christ.
Jesus came over 2000 years ago but He still needs to come now. Even though He was born in Bethlehem, we still today need to celebrate His birth. Even though the Incarnation has already happened, Jesus still has to start His work of salvation in many souls.
As we can see it is not only a matter of remembering the past and saying what a good birthday of Jesus that happened over 2000 years ago. Advent has the seriousness of knowing that something is missing in our society, our families and in our own lives.
I think this Advent is going to be very special and difficult to forget because of all the things that our eyes are witnessing. There is much justice that is missing and more; peace, solidarity, love, happiness and joy.
Advent is a time to come to our senses and sees how much we need Jesus individually, in our families and in our community at St. Marks. What is going on with the world? Where are we going?
Advent is asking those kinds of questions, it is accepting that we need conversion in politics, relationships, money, life issues such as abortion, education, moral issues. Where are we going with all of these? What are we doing with this great gift of life?
The conclusion is one: Come Lord Jesus, come and save us, come and save us from our selfishness and desire of revenge, from our addictions and lack of love. Come Lord, because it doesn’t seem to get better when I try by myself, without your grace which comes through prayer and the Sacraments.
Advent my brothers and sisters is regaining our appetites and hunger, the necessity of Jesus in our lives. Advent is getting to the point of saying: We need meekness, wisdom, goodness, purity Jesus Christ. We need you, come and don’t delay your visit.
Lord Jesus, I easily forget that you deserve the first spot in my life. At least right now I recognize you as my King and Master. I know you are present with me now and that you wish to fill me with your grace. Thank you for your friendship; I offer my weak love in return. I love you, Lord, and wish you to reign in my life.
Lord Jesus, help me to stay vigilant to your holy inspirations.
I have sought to please you in my actions, and when I have failed, I have turned to you through confession to be washed of my sins. I want to hear you say to me: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come share my joy” (Matthew 25:23).
Lord Jesus, help me to “stay awake” in my daily life, keeping heaven as my true goal in all that I do. Help me to stand ready in every moment of my life to be called into your presence, Amen.
I asked all of you to incorporate some specific pratices this Advent. Here you have some prayers for your personal and family devotions for the first week: