Reflections on Advent

1. Coming of Jesus for the Final Judgment The first two weeks of the Advent liturgy focus heavily on the Last Judgment with its consequent rewards and punishments. If a person centers himself on this aspect of Advent, he deepens his awareness of his own death and the ultimate evaluation of what he has thought worth doing with his life. Admittedly, there is little reference here to Christmas Day; the focus is on the final coming of Jesus. 2. Waiting for the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem The liturgy of Advent, particularly the last two weeks, tries to instill in us that longing and emptiness that characterized the people of Israel as they waited confidently, patiently for the promised coming of their God who will bless and save them. Can we create in ourselves a longing for God’s presence and alert ourselves to the emptiness of life without God so that we will appreciate with gratitude His having come to us? Admittedly, we are on the other side of the great divide that separated those who had Him not, from those who received Him. Yet the effort to let ourselves become one of those who longed for Him to come - this can be an excellent effort to prepare us to understand what we have already been given. To paraphrase a word of Jesus, "I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see the thing which you see, and did not see it, and to hear the thing which you hear, and did not hear it." We are encouraged to let ourselves join the greatest of the world in wishing to see and wishing to hear. John Kilgallen, S.J.

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