On the threshold of Advent

What comes to mind when you hear the word Advent? Perhaps the phrase “coming to” or “preparation” recalls homilies or lessons from the past. Perhaps Advent triggers a word of frustration: ugh! - Christmas is close and there is much to do in a short period of time. Seemingly, we blink and Advent is over, that is if we even entered into it with the Christmas crush.

In the prayer following the Lord’s Prayer at every Mass, the Church prays: “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of Your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
  1. Deliverance from every evil.
  2. Peace in our days.
  3. Freedom from sin.
  4. Safe[ty] from all distress.
Might any of these four be a dream that you nurture deep within, wondering if any or all 4 will ever become a reality in your life? The world repeats and old message: there will always be evil in the world, peace will never come, we will always sin and we will have to find ways to medicate and to cope with distress in our lives. The repetitive and old message of pessimism and despair is real in the sense that anyone of us can give into its life-robbing power. The irony is that in the Face of Jesus Christ, these realities have no power; but WE give them power when we acknowledge their repetitive and old existence. Discovering the singular, unique newness Who is Jesus the Christ destroys evil, provides peace, gives freedom from sin and safety from distress.

Thus we come to the “work” of Advent. Yes, Advent as a way of life is a work, a work of responding to the new creation in our midst that is Jesus. Centuries ago, Saint Irenaeus wrote: “You must realize that He Who was promised has brought something totally new by giving us Himself.” Advent is a way of living life that proclaims boldly Jesus makes all things new (Revelation 21:5) and consequently there is no room for a repetitive, old message of evil, unrest, sin and distress. Allowing oneself to be found by Jesus Christ (in other words, not seeking after as if “I” must find Him) unleashes power that floods life with deliverance, peace, no sin and no distress.