“Be on our guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33)
The prayer of the first Christians, the final word of the Bible are about the coming of Christ: Maranatha, they prayed, Come, Lord Jesus. The first Christians would meet together on Saturday evening not for a short mass, but for a long vigil throughout the night, as they waited expectantly for the coming of Christ with 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.
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.
So we should prepare ourselves for Christ this Advent, and renew once more our devotion to him in the Mass.
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.
We can see Christ in the Sacrament, and truly meet him – if we prepare our hearts for this beautiful encounter.