First Sunday of Advent
December 2, 2018 Cycle C
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
 Washington, D.C.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Advent season is a time of hope and expectation, as we prepare to welcome Jesus’ coming.

At this season, we are invited to wait in a state of expectation.

When I was a boy, I used to be very impatient. I wanted things right away. My dad used to say: “Wait. In life, it is very important to know how to wait.” As I became an adult, I started to understand what he meant.

We live in a technological culture, where everything is immediate. We live in an “I-want-it-now” world. People cannot wait; they want to satisfy their desires immediately.

Without expectation, we miss out on the foretaste of good things. If we skip the time of expectation, we lose the value of things. Without expectation, there is no surprise. Without expectation, there is no true joy.

It seems as if we started the Christmas season right after Thanksgiving. Everything around us is all about Christmas. However, we have not truly started the Christmas season. We are starting Advent. We cannot skip the precious season of Advent that prepares us for Christmas.

Today’s reading talks about the last coming of Jesus, which will occur at the end of history. We live between the first coming, when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, and the last coming, at the end of times, when he will come in glory and majesty.

We live in the time of faith. Now Jesus comes in an invisible way. He is hidden in the action of the sacraments, in the life of the community and in the charity of the saints. We cannot see him but we can find signs of his action.

Faith is to recognize that he is with us, that he is coming now. The last words of the Bible are: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 20:22). The liturgy during Advent repeats this refrain many times. We ask him to come because we need his presence among us, we need his light that conquers our darkness.

Advent is a time to be vigilant. Jesus says in the Gospel: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy […] be vigilant.”

In Advent, we need time to stop. We need to find silence in order to pray. Prayer is what allows us to expect the One who will come.

Mary is our model of what expectation means. She waited with ineffable love for the coming of the Emmanuel. In her heart, there was all the expectation of the people of Israel.

In Mary’s example, let us find the best way to live a fruitful Advent season. May she help us prepare to celebrate Christmas with our hearts renewed.  Amen.

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