REFLECTION: In this Advent season, have we listened to the message of Jesus?

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

We’re all aware, I think, that as we begin this season of Advent, we are preparing in a special way for the coming of Jesus. In fact, there are three comings of Jesus that are celebrated during this period of preparation for Christmas. First, and the most important, is what we just heard about in the Gospel — the final coming of Jesus at the end of time when Jesus will bring in the fullness, the reign of God, the time of peace and fullness of life and joy for all creatures of all time.

Candle reflectingBut then also, we’re preparing in a more immediate way, although we don’t know because we don’t know when that final moment is going to come. It could be today or tomorrow, but most likely not; who knows? Anyway, we are preparing for the Feast of Christmas when we celebrate and remember the coming of the Son of God into our midst as part of our human family. Finally, and maybe most important, we should be preparing during these weeks, and then hope that we’ll continue throughout our life for those comings of Jesus that happen on an every day basis through the Word of God, through events in our lives, Jesus is present. Often we don’t recognize it.

Now during these four weeks of Advent, we’re going to try to be more alert. In fact, that’s the advice that Luke gives in the Gospel when he, like the other early Christians, was looking forward to the imminent coming of Jesus. They thought it was going to happen almost right away. Luke says, “Be alert. Be ready so that when Jesus comes again you’ll be there to welcome him and to rejoice with his final coming in the fullness of the reign of God.”

But that same message of Luke to “be alert,” we can use for our preparations for the other comings of Jesus, especially for those comings when Jesus enters into our every day life. There’s a part of the Eucharistic prayer where we say, “Blessed indeed is your Son, Jesus, present in our midst when we gather in his name and when as once for his disciples, and now for us he opens the Scriptures and breaks the bread.” That’s a reminder to us that Jesus becomes present to us in our every day life, especially when we are gathered in his name.

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