Advent, (from Latin adventus, ‘coming’), is the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November. The First Sunday of Advent is the First Sunday of the new Liturgical year and the four Sundays preceding Christmas are recognised for four virtues. The candles on the Advent wreath symbolise hope, love, joy and peace and they are lit in that order.
In the time before Jesus’ birth the expectation of the Messiah was very strong in Israel. People waited for the coming of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would at last set the people free from every form of moral and political slavery and find the Kingdom of God. But no one would ever have imagined that the Messiah could be born to a girl like Mary, the betrothed of Joseph. Nor would she have ever thought of it, and yet in her heart the expectation of the Saviour was so great.
This Advent take some time to think of your life as a gift from God. Replay your life story in your mind, highlighting the many graces you have received from earliest childhood until now. When you really think of giftedness you will find that your many blessings far outnumber the low points in life. We are God’s instruments. He gives us gifts to share with others.
Think of the gifts that God gave you through other people and give thanks.
Who gave me life and nurtured me?
Who gave me a safe place to be in?
Who listened to me with great care and attention?
Who told me the truth, even when it was difficult?
Who introduced me to prayer, or worship, or Scripture?
Who talked to me about Jesus, or his mother, Mary, or God as loving parent?
Who loves me and cares for me?
Who can I share my gifts with?
In his Advent address this week, Pope Francis stated that God is there, in our daily work, in a chance encounter, in the face of someone in need; even when we face days that seem grey and monotonous, it is right there that we find the Lord, who calls to us, speaks to us and inspires our actions.
From the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square in Rome, he asked us a question for reflection. ‘How can we recognise and welcome the Lord? It is important, he said, that we are awake, alert, vigilant’.