The last note of the previous liturgical year ends with the Lucan Jesus advising us to “be vigilant at all times” (Lk. 21:34) leaving each Christian’s heart to who are now entering the portal of the new year of the Church this Advent season ever ready.
The consistent call is carried to the loop of the Church’s year this Advent. Now, the Marcan Jesus is brings us the imperative to “be watchful and be alert” (cf. Mk. 13:33). The previous year’s last gospel is given as a warning to the coming tribulations when one is unfaithful to the Lord’s command to prepare for the unknown time of the eschatological end (the final end or the final judgment). Now, in this preliminary segment of Advent, Jesus is consolidating it with the final coming of Him located at the unknown endpoint of cosmos.
Advent begins today in order to fire up our hearts to enthusiasm of the final coming of God. This is not just about the cute and sentimental or orchestrated patience to wait for Christmas (anyway, we have been waiting for it since the first day of the “ber” months of September to December). But, Advent is a mature season of vigilance and serious waiting for the arrival of God anytime of our lives. In this sense, this season serves a purpose of becoming a “short or crush course” for God’s final act within creation.
As Advent begins in the note of serious call to attune oneself to God’s imminent coming to our lives, it entails the basic or fundamental attitudes that we should foster and sustain more than ever.
First, Advent is a call to conversion. But, unlike Lenten season, wherein we acknowledge our personal and collective sinfulness in front of our merciful Lord who is willing to offer His life as our Savior, Advent call to conversion is an acknowledgement of the same personal and collective sinfulness in front of a merciful Judge. Advent is a call to conversion, therefore, in light of God’s merciful justice. Today, we are asked to survey our lives if our brand of Christian discipleship is a vehicle of what has been the fruits of Christ’s death to our lives. Have we lived out Christian virtues? Have we really become a faithful imitators of Christ’s way? Have we really become Christians in a way Christ envisioned for us in His death and resurrection? Advent is a pitstop of the soul to review our lives through and through before we face Christ as judge.
Second, Advent is a call to be watchful. A converted life is a watchful life. Conversion is not just a one-day event. It should flow from the big boom of divine grace from day one to unfolding. This is the characteristic of watchfulness and alertness. Christian life has no “vacation leaves” that as if we are given a recess to be foolish away from the grace of God. The advent call is to foster the emergence of grace in a daily basis of live. There is no point of return or regress in Christian life. As Christians, our direction is only to move forward. At times, we may be beset by evils that make our journey forward difficult. We may pause and take a sacred respite from evils but life has to go forward. Anytime, in our journey, God may come towards our way. We should just be ready always.
Lastly, Advent is a season of waiting and patience. I like the “facebook wisdom” shared through memes. It says “It is not waiting that makes you better but how much patience have you put in the waiting.” True! Waiting in the mystery of arrival nourished by Advent season is not a complete Advent attitude. Waiting paired with patience makes the mystery more profound. While we say we waited in the fashion of Advent but if our hearts are but wretched when in waiting we cannot be calm. What if we have reached the point of our waiting but in the duration we become bitter waiters and grumpy watchers? Waiting in Advent is completed therefore by the substance of patience. Our welcoming of God will be affected by a fuller expression of waiting in patience.
Today, we begin a new liturgical year that brings a rebooting and refreshing Christian life to fundamental provisions. In watchful converted life, may we lift our hearts to God with patience. He will come to us anytime. Be there all the time! | Fr. Ric Anthony Reyes, OSA