Fr. José Javier Arteaga – Schoenstatt Fathers •
Dear brothers and sisters: The World Cup has begun and all the attention in the conversations and in the media revolves around the matches, the national team and whether we are positioned to win the cup. The big question is whether the national team is well prepared to win. But without making so much noise – like all transcendent things – this Sunday begins the season of Advent and a new liturgical year.
The word advent comes from the Latin adventus and means “coming,” so these four weeks of Advent are a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord.
Advent has a double meaning: it is a time of preparation for Christmas, where we remember and celebrate the first coming of God to us and, in addition, Advent motivates us for the future second coming of Christ at the end of time. That is why we prepare ourselves to receive the Lord, Christ came, is coming and will come!
In the first days of Advent the liturgy highlights the hope in Christ’s second coming at the end of time. We see this in today’s biblical readings:
- In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, he reveals to us his vision of the Holy City of Jerusalem, symbol of the Kingdom of God in heaven. People of all peoples will journey towards this heavenly city, which is at the end of our journey in our earthly life.
- In the second reading, St. Paul exhorts us to decide in favor of Christ; he is the true way to reach the heavenly Jerusalem. He tells us: “Let us leave the works of darkness and take up the weapons of light”. We need the “weapons of light” that Christ gives us to face the darkness, the temptations and struggles that abound in this life. Whoever lives in expectation of the coming of the Lord strives to walk in the light of Christ, does not let himself be and does not fall asleep: “You know in what time we live and that it is time to wake up”. This time is for us the decisive time: it is a question of our eternal life.
- That is why, in today’s Gospel, Christ clearly shows us the consequences of our life decisions: “Of two men in the field, one will be taken and the other left. Of two women who are grinding, one will be taken and the other left”. He reminds us that the coming of the Lord, like our end, will be unexpected like the flood in Noah’s time or a thief coming in the night. Christ exhorts us to an attentive and hopeful waiting, as he indicates in today’s Gospel: “Be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”.
This attitude of being ready for God, Jesus Christ not only taught, but lived it throughout his life here: Christ lives open, attentive, in dialogue with God his Father, and – faithful to this “attentive listening” to God – he carries out the Father’s will.
The Lord is coming! Let us have the same attitude of openness, of attentive and trusting waiting in God. Our eternal life is at stake! Are we well prepared?
Father Kentenich said that “the measure of longing is the measure of grace.” If I long for little, if I hope for little, I will make little effort and receive little. He who longs for much, if he strives and works hard, will receive more. Even more so if my longing and goal is the grace of God, that God may come and reign in my life. Then I will ask: Come Lord!
In these four weeks the Church invites us to wait, to yearn strongly and to prepare our hearts to receive God. How can we prepare ourselves?
- In daily prayer, reflecting my longing and hope: Come, Lord!
- In interior conversion, rejecting what distances me from God: Come, Lord!
- In works of love, concrete expression of my longing for God: Come, Lord!
Let us look at Mary and Joseph, they receive the Lord: first in their longing and then in the daily presence of their lives. They are images of longing expectation, who with their generous yes make Christmas possible, saying in their hearts: Come, Lord!
Dear brothers and sisters, may prayer, interior conversion and simple and concrete works of love be the strength and expression of the longing to receive God who comes at Christmas.
In the Shrine I ask the Lord and our Mother and Queen, for all of you and your families, abundant graces and Christmas wishes.
May you have a blessed Advent season.