Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Matthew 24:37-44
Looking backward and forward. Waiting, watching, praying and being ready.

This Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, is the start of the church’s new liturgical year. The word “advent” means coming. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Day. It’s a joyful time of preparation for Christmas, the first coming of Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem.

As we listen to the readings and the Gospels during Advent, much of what is read has little to do with Baby Jesus. But, Advent is more than waiting for Jesus’ coming as a baby in Bethlehem or tracking the number of days until Christmas.

Advent tells us that Jesus comes into our lives every day. When we go to Mass, when we receive holy Communion, when we receive the other sacraments, when we pray, when we read the Scriptures, when we are loving, kind, forgiving and sharing with others, when we see the beauty of nature in the changing seasons, when others are kind and helpful to us, Jesus comes to be reborn in our hearts.

Advent also reminds us our earthly world will not last forever. At the end of time, Jesus will come in power and glory to bring us home to heaven with him. He tells us not to be afraid and to be ready at all times because only God the Father knows when Jesus’ final coming will take place.

The three comings of Jesus (past, present and future) have the same purpose – to deepen our relationship and friendship with God. Jesus yearns to reside in our hearts. It is up to us to make sure there is some “room in the inn.”

Use the waiting and watching time of Advent to get ready for Jesus’ coming:

  • Read about Jesus in the Bible.
  • Give some non-perishable foods to your church’s food pantry for the needy.
  • Go through your closet and toy box for usable clothes, toys and books you can give to the poor.
  • Pray the rosary for world peace, thinking about the events in Jesus’ life.
  • Get your heart ready for Jesus with the sacrament of reconciliation by going to confession.

Pope Benedict XVI has said: “Advent is par excellence the season of hope in which believers in Christ are invited to remain in watchful and active waiting, nourished by prayer and by the effective commitment to love.”

“Come, Lord Jesus!”