The reflection below was originally published on Dec. 1 in the blog A Franciscan Journey.
On Dec. 1, we began Advent which in Latin means “coming.”
Advent is all about hope in a glorious future. It invites us to reflect on the threefold coming of Jesus. Yes, Jesus came to us centuries ago. He comes to us now sacramentally, and he will come again with great power and glory at the end-time to transform this universe into a “new heaven and a new earth.”
The prophet Isaiah spoke about hope. He proclaimed that people everywhere “shall go up” to the Temple in Jerusalem not only to hear but to do the word. Everywhere there will be peace. Do we trust in God’s unconditional love for us? And yes, do we try to do the right thing?
Paul, in his letter to the Christian community at Rome, wrote about his earthly life drawing closer to the end every day. So, too, is ours. Stay awake, be ready, live in the light, writes St. Paul. Practice virtue. Care for one another, pray earnestly, and please God.
Living with Purpose
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus speaks to us about watchfulness or readiness. Jesus may come to us suddenly when we least expect Him. And so, live each day with purpose.
The Advent season can be captured in one word: “waiting,” anticipating the Messiah.
Folks in ancient Israel often waited for the Messiah to rescue them from their hardships, from the follies of their kings, from their exile, from their many occupations by a cruel foreign power.
We, too, often pray to God to rescue us from a crisis of one kind or another. Some would say that this is the story of everyone. Where was God when a loved one was in harm’s way? Why didn’t God protect them? There are no answers that satisfy us. Yes, we pray for God to rescue us. And, yet, God can seem silent, hidden. But is God silent? Is God hidden?
We profess that God is indeed in our midst. Not in a manger — that was centuries ago in Bethlehem. Where is God today? All around us — in nature, in people, yes, and even in our beloved pets. God is with us, as we ache with all sorts of growing pains. God is especially with us in the Mass, where we sacramentally encounter the living Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity.
Saint Paul wrote that God’s favor — God’s grace — has been revealed in Jesus. And so, we wait and sing in Advent, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
Let us pray this Advent season that the Spirit of God, who through the Virgin Mary brought forth the Word made flesh, will reenergize us. Yes, fire us up so that we, through God’s grace, can go forth to help those who doubt to find faith; those who despair to find hope; those who are weak to find courage; those who are sick to find healing; those who are sad or depressed or angry to find joy; those who wander to find the way; and those who are about to die to find eternal life. Amen.
— Kevin Mackin, OFM, a former president of Mount St. Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., and Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., lives at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg, Florida. The previous reflection published in HNP Today, written by Aaron Richardson, OFM, was titled Season of Creation.
Editor’s note: Friars interested in writing a reflection for HNP Today on a timely topic — a holiday, current event, holy day, or other seasonal themes – are invited to contact the HNP Communications Office. Additional reflections by friars can be found in the Spiritual Resources page of HNP.org.
- “New Book of Homilies by Kevin Mackin” – Feb. 7, 2018, HNP Today
- “Advent Events Focus on Varied Themes” – Dec. 6, 2017, HNP Today
- “Living in the Shadows of Hope and Goodwill This Advent” – Dec. 3, 2008, HNP Today