Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, a curtain ushering in the new year of the Church. The season has a twofold character. It is a preparation for celebrating Christ’s birth among us and a reminder of his second coming in glory, at the end of time. When Christ was born, his arrival into our world went unnoticed but for Mary and a faithful few who were prayerfully waiting for the messiah to come among them, they had read the signs of the times correctly. The readings contain some valuable pointers warning us to be ready and prepared for his second coming. Let nobody be fooled, one fact remains true and pertinent: all roads in life lead to the Day of the Lord. During, the run-up to Christmas we can benefit from giving some consideration to who we are, what we are doing with our lives and how we are approaching the one great test that really matters – our personal meeting with the Lord on judgment day. Our future very much depends on the way we are living at this moment. We are the masters of our own destiny.
As a pilgrim people we celebrate, in our Sunday Eucharist, Christ’s presence among us until he comes in glory. What type of a welcome are we giving Christ in our hearts if we are neglecting prayer, squandering money, bickering in the family or drinking to excess? Are we not a bit off-target and failing to make progress in good Christian living? Unless we are imitating gospel standards there is no room to congratulate ourselves cozily on the birth of Christ in Bethlehem because he is not born into our hearts. His presence has had no influence on us as we haven’t wakened up to our need for a saviour to free us from our sins.
During advent, the Church makes an appeal for an improvement in our lives and for a new depth of sincerity to our religion. It calls on us to make a fresh start at building a closer relationship with Christ. Prayer, penance, and works for mercy are necessary preparations for the coming of the Lord.
Advent provides an opportunity to look around at what needs to be put right, to see how we have failed, and to assess the ways in which we can do better. If prayer has been neglected, now is the chance to begin anew. Whatever our past, God is only too willing to look lovingly upon us. His arms are always stretched to welcome us home. There so many ways in which all of us can improve. It’s remarkable how easily we settle for idleness, carelessness and indifference. Our fallen nature is our slump factor, pulling us down and leading us to sin.
Advent is, above all, a time to deepen our friendship with God by thinking of his great love for us in sending his Son as our saviour. It’s only fitting that in return we should show our love for Him. If we do so our vision of Christ will become clearer and the driving force in our lives.
Fr Gerald Binegas RCJ
Fr Gerald is serving as the Assistant Priest at the partnered parishes of Christ the King, Braybrook and Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Maidstone. He and the Parish Priest, Fr Rene Ramirez RCJ, are the first Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus to serve God and neighbour in Australia. We thank God and pray for them in this new mission.
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