Malankara World

Advent - Waiting for the Savior

Lighting the Advent Candles

Advent Is Upon Us

by Dr. Jacob Mathew
Managing Editor, Malankara World

Advent is upon us. "Advent" is simply the Latin word for "coming." We can think about two comings or visits. The first is the arrival of the Christmas Season and the arrival of baby Jesus on Christmas Day. It celebrates the incarnation of God, the chosen messiah.

The incarnation took place 2000 years ago in Bethlehem in a manger. So, if we are waiting for an arrival, it should be for the second coming of Jesus Christ as promised. As Christians, we know Jesus is coming; but we do not know exactly when. Jesus told us that we should be ready at all time because we do not know the exact day and time He is coming. The advent season is a dress rehearsal for preparing for the arrival of Jesus.

The meaning of the advent season is "preparation," preparation for the coming of the Lord. In the liturgical season of Advent, we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. We had covered the annunciation to Zachariah about the arrival of John, the Baptist. Then we had the annunciation to St. Mary about the incarnation of Jesus. John, the Baptist, had pointed out the messiah in St. Mary's womb when Mary visited Elizabeth. This week, we have the birth of John, the Baptist. Next week, we have the revelation to Joseph. We should use this as a warm up for “preparing” to receive God in our soul constantly. The soul in a state of grace is the dwelling place of the most holy Trinity.

We make elaborate preparations for Christmas. However, on every Sunday, we encounter Jesus in the Holy Qurbano. We partake on the Living Sacrifice; we receive him into our lives when we eat his body and drink his blood. Are we doing that without any second thoughts? Are we prepared? Advent is a season to reflect on it. As Fr. Corapi once said:

"Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is a miracle of grace that we can never prepare too well for. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, the One who makes us holy. To start with, we live the basic moral precept: Do good, avoid evil. Acts of virtue; caring for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, etc… help to dispose the soul as a dwelling place for God. Receiving the sacraments regularly help us to grow in grace."

Our church teaches us that the best way to prepare for the arrival of Jesus is via lent and prayers. This is why we observe 25 days lent prior to the Christmas - to get ready for His arrival. We also prepare for receiving the Holy mysteries by praying and undergoing lent before receiving Holy Qurbano. This is the continuous preparation we undertake so that irrespective of when Jesus comes, we will be ready.

This Sunday's gospel reading is about the birth of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner of Jesus to prepare the ground for Him. The message of John the Baptist was, "Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand." Our church gives great importance to the repentance. Psalm 51, the repentance psalm, is part of all of our prayers. Half of the preparation for the Holy Qurbano is repentance prayers followed by absolution.

We are so busy attending parties and shopping during the advent season that there is no time to do anything else. Our forefathers had planned it very differently. It is easy to become so immersed in the superficial aspects of preparing for Christmas that we ignore the most important preparation: making our hearts ready for the coming of the Lord. Advent is the time for self-reflection. It is time of introspection. It is the time to cleanse our bodies and heart; it is the time to repent our sins, obtain absolution and cleanse us of the sins so that the Holy Spirit can come and dwell in us when we partake on the Qurbano. This is a good time to reflect on the song we sing while the priest is interceding on our behalf during the Qurbano ("Yachikkendum samayamitha..")

Come, the time of prayer is here,
Come for pardon, have no fear;
'Tis the time to ask anew
'Tis the time for mercy too

Mercy here is full and free,
Come beloved come and see,
Give the kiss of peace divine,
Hearts sincere in love combine.

Lord have mercy on us now,
Grant forgiveness as we bow,
Answer, Lord, our earnest plea;
Good art thou-though frail we be.

So, instead of speeding up, we need to slow down during the advent season. We need to spend our time in silence and meditation so that we will recognize it when Jesus returns. That is the real meaning of advent (preparation) and this season.

Source: Issue 41 of Malankara World Journal (Dec 1, 2011)

See Also:

Advent Season by Pope Benedict XVI
In Advent, Christians relive a dual impulse of the spirit: on the one hand, they raise their eyes towards the final destination of their pilgrimage through history, which is the glorious return of the Lord Jesus; on the other, remembering with emotion his birth in Bethlehem, they kneel before the Crib.

Advent - A Season of Hope by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Faith, hope, and love. St. Paul, in I Corinthians 13:13, says these three are the bottom line. They are called the theological virtues, the qualities that make us most like God. We hear plenty about faith and love. But when is the last time you heard a rousing homily on hope? Why is hope important? And what is it precisely? ...

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