Advent: Preparing to Meet the Lord
As we begin our observance of Advent, we are invited to turn our focus to preparing for the coming of Christ – in every sense of His coming. That is, while it is plain that Advent serves to help us be ready to celebrate Jesus’ arrival in celebrating His birth, we ought also to be aware and vigilant to prepare for his glorious return and to learn to live more fully now in His presence among us, as He regularly and constantly comes to each one of us in our daily lives. As such, Advent invites us to go deeper in preparing to encounter Jesus Christ in a personal way throughout the entirety of our lives onto eternal life.
Yes, it is absolutely true that we want to be as ready as possible to celebrate the birth of Christ – as this beautiful moment of Jesus Christ entering into our humanity has great power to draw us closer to God – who is “God with us.” Likewise, (and especially in these times of confusion and uncertainty), it is essential that we remain focused and ready to meet Jesus in His glorious second coming, when all will be brought to completion and eternity will be revealed. However, in making ready for these two “events,” singular moments of encounter that they are, might this Advent also include our growth in seeing Jesus’ presence already among us in each and every day of our lives, readying ourselves to receive Him and to respond to His presence more and more faithfully.
Practically speaking, might this season lead us to recognize that each and every time we pray, we invite Jesus’ presence more deeply into our lives, opening our hearts to His love, allowing Him to be active in that prayer. In other words, whether we are praying for ourselves and our own needs or for other people and their needs, this Advent can serve to help us truly surrender these prayers to Jesus, that in our offering of them and in His hearing and answering of them, we may let go in trust that His answers will be truly in accord with our best (and not what we assume is the best), allowing Him to be fully present to the need. Likewise, if our prayer takes the form of reflecting upon Scripture or spiritual writings, may we go about such prayer by learning more fully to let Jesus lead us, letting go of any preconceived ideas of “what we think” God ought to do in our prayer, or “how” He should do it. Finally, may we more perfectly see the sacraments of the Church, gifts of Jesus that they are, as real ways of encountering Jesus in the direct ways that He wills to come to us, whether that be in the mercy and forgiveness of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or in His presence in the Eucharist. May our partaking of the sacraments likewise be with total trust that Jesus will give us all that we truly need in that moment.
As we put faith into practice this Advent, may we also grow in deeper awareness that Christ is always with us – present in every task. Whether we are doing very direct acts of charity during these weeks, or simply tending to everyday chores (especially the least appealing ones), may we learn to acknowledge that Jesus is in our midst, letting Him into these moments as our true source of life and help.
By growing in this awareness of Christ already with us, may we then learn to acknowledge and remain focused upon our true goal: heaven and the eternal presence of God. For the more we can continue to open ourselves to Jesus Christ already with us in each and every moment, the greater will be our awareness of Him and readiness for Him when he wills to return in the glory of His second coming – for which we ought to remain in constant vigilance. May this Advent lead to such increase in each of our lives, that Jesus might be all in all.