This week we commence the season of Advent and so begins a new Liturgical Year. Advent means, to come, or to arrive. For Christians, it is the season when we celebrate the coming or the arrival of the Lord. For some of us that might sound strange. Hasn’t Jesus already come? Didn’t he enter our world over two thousand years ago? For what more are we waiting? Advent has sometimes been called the season of the already but not yet. This means that while yes, indeed, Christ has come into the world there is still unfinished business! Christ is the prince of peace and yet we are well aware that the work of peace is incomplete.
During Advent we call on Christ to come and complete the work of peace for which the world so longs. Christ is the son of justice, and yet we know that the work of justice is incomplete. During Advent we will pray and work for justice for the displaced people of the globe, for the survivors of Church sexual abuse, for those who suffer domestic and family violence, for those who are excluded from full participation in society due to disability, prejudice or economic failure. Christ is the King of Creation and yet we know that the world in which we live is suffering degradation and exploitation. We pray during Advent that the King of Creation will come and complete the work of healing and wholeness for our planet and all its peoples. So Advent is the season when we call upon the Lord to come and complete the work of saving and healing our world.
Our parishes will enter into this season in a very practical way. In each of our churches this Sunday you will see an Advent Giving Tree. The Advent Giving Tree is an opportunity for each of us to play our part, as part of the body of Christ, in bringing about the completion of justice, peace and wholeness. Our Advent Giving Trees will provide the opportunity to support three of our partner organisations: St Vincent de Paul, CatholicCare and the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project. Our Advent Giving Trees will be replete with dozens of ‘gift tags’, each with a description of a gift or donation that you can make this Advent. You are invited to take a gift tag and purchase the gift or make the donation that is listed on that particular gift tag. Please bring that gift back over the next two weeks so that the gifts can be distributed prior to Christmas. Each gift tag has been carefully prepared according to specific needs. Our partner welfare agencies would be grateful if you bring only those items that are listed on the gift cards. This will ensure that real needs are met and assistance targeted to specific people. For those who cannot get to our churches and would like to participate in the Advent Giving Tree you may like to visit our website and donate online to any of our partner organisations.
The second reading for the third Sunday of Advent is from St Paul to the Thessalonians. The words of St Paul may ring true to us today as we begin our Advent journey: “May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you.” With this sentiment, let us begin to call upon the Lord to enter our communities, and work together to complete the yet unfinished business of bringing about the Kingdom of God.
By Fr Brendan Reed