Two Chaldean Catholic altar servers pray for peace at Mass in Amman, Jordan.
Advent is a time of waiting and expectation; a season of quiet anticipation and preparation. We are waiting for our Lord to come into the world as the baby Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem. We are also preparing for His return, His second coming as the shepherd-king, to restore harmony and right relationship to all creation. Advent is a season yearning for God to come and set the world right with perfect justice, truth and peace. It is a season of hope.
Advent is a time to emphasize preparation through prayer. While Lent emphasizes a spirit of repentance through prayer and fasting, Advent's prayers are prayers of humble devotion and commitment, prayers for deliverance, prayers of gladness and joyful expectation, prayers that await the light of Christ coming into the world.
We do not shrink from those Advent scripture readings that reveal a strong prophetic tone of accountability and judgment. Christ's disciples expect the Lord to hold them accountable for what has been entrusted to them just as a spouse, parent, teacher or supervisor holds us accountable. And just as the steward was found faithful in small matters by the master, we too are confident that we will be found faithful and will enter the joy of the Master. We have absolute trust in the Lord's countenance.
Assuredly, during Advent we anticipate the Lord's coming with hope. It is that hope, however faint at times, that keeps us from despair and the darkness of sin and its destructiveness. It is a hope that urges us to be kind, loving and compassionate toward one another. It is a hope that encourages our faith in a merciful God who continues to pour His grace upon us.
We don't know when Christ will come again to bring human history to its completion. But we celebrate with gladness the great promise of Advent and we rekindle that positive, joyful spirit within us because we know, as Zechariah prophesied, that the light of Christ will shine on all who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and He will guide our feet into the way of peace.
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