Living Advent Today
Message from Fr Nishant — 1st Sunday of Advent (B)
The preparation of carols, Christmas trees and gifts is a great way to prepare family and friendly Christmas festivities. But to worry too much about it, we risk once again to miss the riches of the Advent season. That the Lord has come, lived among us and would come again, should mark our Christian life. How to have a meaningful celebration of the Advent season or, more broadly, how to make our whole existence an experience of Advent?
By re-reading their history, believers in the Bible have recognized the presence of a God who loves and who comes, who accompanies and frees his people. Jesus’ friends recollected, after Easter, all that they had lived with Jesus. They understood that in him God responded to the expectation of his people by coming to visit them and save them; they testify to this in the New Testament.
To live the coming of the Lord today is to see how to participate in the work of divine liberation. Saint Paul speaks of living “according to justice.” This expression does not exclude the meaning we give to this word. But it has a broader and deeper meaning. It means to fulfill in all things the will of the Lord. In particular, put into practice, with all our strength, the two commandments that are like the keystone of the whole Bible: to love God and our neighbour. And it is not only a personal affair. The practice of these two commandments also takes on a community and even an international dimension. A better distribution of the wealth of this world, understanding among peoples, respect for the environment, a better quality of life, can be as many ways of living the coming of the Lord.
The one we celebrate during Advent is the “just judge.” When he comes at the end of time, he will give to those who have lived according to the law, “the crown of righteousness,” as Saint Paul says. The criterion of this judgment will be the love we have had for our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest of them, wherever they are in the world. It is not to make us anxious that the liturgy of Advent keeps this perspective of judgment under our eyes, but to encourage us to love God, and our brothers and sisters eagerly. This is why the Church, during Advent, offers us, with greater insistence than usual, to “put on” Jesus Christ and to strive to have in us the feelings that were his. Without the strength that Christ gives us, it is impossible for us to live according to the heart of God.