Are you ready?

This time of year always makes me a little uneasy. The days are getting shorter. Darkness is spreading, creeping more and more into each day. There is nothing I can do to stop the growing darkness. I’m powerless to bring back the light. The lights in the house seem to be working overtime to hold back the ever growing darkness and I know eventually they will burn out. Each day has more darkness than the last. If the darkness continues to grow at this rate, the world will be completely dark by March!

 But I know that isn’t going to happen. In a few weeks we will have our shortest day and then the light will start to return. The light will push back invading darkness. Darkness is not the final word. The days will grow longer and the light will be victorious.

 It is this natural cycle of darkness and light which gives rise to the particular gift of Advent. In the darkness of Advent we prepare for the coming of the light that is Jesus (Cf. Jn. 1:5; 8:12).

 During Advent, we reflect on Jesus’ coming in three ways:

  1. Jesus came in history

  2. Jesus comes in mystery and

  3. Jesus comes at the end of time.

 1. In part, what we celebrate at Christmas is Jesus coming in history. We come to know Jesus presence in history primarily through study. I recommend reading John’s Gospel with its powerful themes of light and darkness this time of year. As he came to Nicodemus (Jn. 3), Jesus comes to us in the darkness and reveals why he came into history: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). By entering into our history, Jesus gives time meaning and purpose. We are not headed toward a random end, we are moving toward eternal life.

 2. We encounter Jesus in mystery every day. Jesus comes to us daily and invites us to follow him. As the wise Dominican priest Fr. Goeffrey Preston says, “When God visits, he doesn’t just say ‘Hello.’” The mysterious presence of Jesus in each moment invites us to turn away from all that is sinful and to embrace the life God is calling us to. Jesus is present now as much as he was at the time of the apostles, simply in a different way. Advent calls us to wake up to the presence of Jesus and respond right now.

 3. Finally, Advent calls us to prepare for our final encounter with Jesus at the end of time. Most of us avoid thinking about our mortality. We don’t like to think of our own death or the final end. We get uncomfortable. But that discomfort is part of Advent. It confronts us with the ultimate question of the meaning of our lives. Each of us will take our last breath and Jesus will come to us. This season challenges us to review our life in light of that final encounter with Jesus.

 Jesus came in history. He comes mysteriously into your life each day. He will come again.

Are you ready?

That is the final disturbing question of Advent. As we get closer each week to celebrating Jesus’ birth we are forced to ask ourselves this question. It is a question meant to rearrange our souls. It is not a question primarily about Christmas. It is not a question about parties or presents or decorations or trees. It is a question about who we are. It is a question about the meaning of life. It is a question about our openness to the power and presence of God in our lives.

Are you ready?

God is coming. That is the meaning of the term advent. Are you ready to meet him?

He is coming to set all things right. He is coming to bring justice and peace to the world. He is coming to conquer darkness, even the darkness in your own heart.

Are you ready?

Is your heart set right? Do you want justice for all people?

God is coming. Advent is here.

Are you ready?

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