Advent – Week One
The word ‘Advent’ means ‘Coming’. It was originally used for the coming of a king or an emperor or a conqueror to a city. The populace was expected to turn out and give due honour to the person entering the city.
This became a part of the background to the coming of the Lord. And there was an expectation that the Lord’s coming would be something like that. We can perhaps see a reflection of that in the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem which we celebrate on Palm Sunday.
Even though we believe that the Lord has indeed come among us human beings, as we look at our world around us, we find that it is still subject to deep inequalities and injustices. Our world is not as it should be; it is still greatly out of balance with some living life quite happily while others suffer grievously.
And so we call upon the Lord to come and to complete what he has begun. We do not so much call him to come again as we call upon him to complete his coming, to bring about what he sought to achieve.
So, Advent invites us to look around us and to take seriously the state of our world, to see the good and also to see what is wrong. It is a time for Social Justice.
The gospel of this first week of Advent calls on us to ‘Stay Awake’ to ‘Be Alert’. That is to take in what is around us, to be ready to see how Christ comes into the world and to be ready to support and strengthen those things. He keeps coming to us in his word and in the Eucharist; but he also keeps coming in those actions and movements in the world in which he is secretly at work. The Second Eucharistic Prayer of Reconciliation names such actions and movements: “In the midst of conflict and division, we know it is you who turns our minds to thoughts of peace. Your Spirit changes our hearts: enemies begin to speak to one another, those estranged join hands in friendship, and nations seek the way of peace together. Your Spirit is at work when understanding puts an end to strife, when hatred is quenched by mercy and vengeance gives way to forgiveness.”
And so we pray: “Come, Lord Jesus”.
By Fr Frank O’Loughlin