We Christians live in cyclical time. We begin each liturgical year on the First Sunday of Advent and end it with the Solemnity of Christ the King. Then the cycle begins again. This reminds us of our belief in eternal life, Resurrection and glory!
Today we begin a new liturgical year and so it is appropriate that we wish each other a Happy New Year! Unlike secular celebrations, our liturgical year revolves around the Paschal Mystery, that being the dying and rising of Jesus Christ. The fullness of this mystery will come when the Lord Jesus returns in glory at the end of the age.
Advent is a time of watchful expectation. I would like to quote Pope Francis as we begin this new year. The Holy Father writes:
"Today we begin our Advent journey, which will culminate in Christmas. Advent is the time we are given to welcome the Lord who comes near to encounter us, and also to verify our longing for God, to look forward and prepare ourselves for Christ's return to us in the celebration of Christmas. We remember his historic coming in the humility of the human condition. But he enters our heart each time we are willing to receive him and he will come again at the end of time to "judge the living and the dead."
"Therefore, we must always be vigilant and await the Lord with the hope of encountering him. In today's Gospel Jesus exhorts us to be vigilant, so as to be ready to welcome him at the moment of his return. The person who takes heed does not let himself or herself be overwhelmed by distraction or superficiality amid the worldly din, but lives in a full and conscious way, with concern first and foremost for others. The watchful person is the one who accepts the invitation to keep watch, that is, not to be overpowered by the listlessness of discouragement, by the lack of hope, by disappointment, and at the same time to ward off the allure of the many vanities with which the world is brimming and for which, now and then, time and personal and familial peace is sacrificed."
This Advent Season we recall the Christ who comes in history, mystery and majesty. We prepare to remember his first coming in Bethlehem (history), his coming to us in the great gift of the Eucharist (mystery), and we await his return in glory (majesty). May all of us be richly blessed this Advent Season.
- Fr. Dennis, December 1, 2019