Friday, November 28, 2008

Advent Sunday

“Be on our guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come”(Mark 13:33)

We are now well into the time of Eager Expectation. Whatever the financial crises and difficulties, I am sure people will be determined to have a good Christmas. And the children will be writing their lists and singing their songs and writing their letters to Santa for that Wii or DS or whatever toy or whatever item it may be. For some, the excitement of it all can be prove to be just too much, and we know that this time of year can be a time of great family stress and upset and anguish. How many times do you hear someone say in the queue in Tesco or ToysRus “I don’t know why we do it”

Eager expectation!

Of course this is far away from the eager expectation we hear about in the Gospel.

The prayer of the first Christians, the final word of the Bible are about eager expectation - the expectation of the the coming of Christ: Maranatha, they prayed, Come, Lord Jesus. The first Christians would meet together on a Saturday not for a short mass, but for a long vigil throughout the night, as they waited expectantly for the coming of Christ when they celebrated Mass at dawn. Every Saturday-Sunday vigil remembered not only the resurrection of Jesus, but also looked forward to the coming of Christ at the end of time.

We have lost something of that excitement, that anticipation. December is an exciting time for us because of the pressures of preparing for Christmas, and sadly not because in Advent we are keenly looking forward to the coming of Christ.

So - tough though it may certainly be, let us try to recover something of the wonder and awe which those first Christians had. They read scripture and prayed through the night, so that with the new day, as they shared the Eucharist, they knew that Christ was already with them in the sacrament – not yet clearly seen, maybe, not yet known by all people, perhaps,  and yet really and truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Let us prepare ourselves for Christ this Advent.
Let us renew ourselves in prayer: before we come to Mass – in quite times spent at home – on the journey to the Church – in a real sense of expectation that we will meet Christ here.

Let us also deepen our knowledge of Christ in scripture – by reading in advance the readings for Sunday Mass – by spending each day reading part of the Gospels, or of the Psalms, or using one of the many guides to the reading of Scripture which are available.

Let us take time to recapture the true wonder of this season. Let us recover the joy and eager expectation so that we can see Christ in the Sacrament, and truly meet him – by preparing our hearts for this beautiful encounter.

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