By Rev. Jeffrey Lawrence
But today, on the first Sunday of Advent, the Church
invites us to play make believe. And what we pretend today is that Jesus
never was born! We play that were living thousands of years before
Christ was ever born in Bethlehem. We make believe that the world never
experienced the first Christmas, and that were still waiting for
Jesus to come into the world.
Try to picture what this kind of life was like. As
we play make believe and try to bring this image alive, another purpose
of Advent then comes into view one which is much more personal
and immediate for us. The Church hopes to stir up our hearts and make
us yearn for the Savior in our own life, as we realize a sobering truth:
in the old days, Christ was absent because he had not yet come into the
world but in our day, Christ seems absent because we push him away.
In other words, hes here, but weve rejected him. How sad and
tragic this is. Advent uses many reminders to speak to our heart: somber
purple vestments, subdued church ceremonies, and many prayers of longing.
As we take in these outward signs around us, we should be constantly reminded
of how desperately we need Jesus in our life.
All this leads us to still a third purpose of Advent: to prepare us for Jesus coming again at the end of the world. For those in a state of grace, what a wonderful time this will be! But for those trapped in the vice of mortal sin, its hard to imagine a more fearsome day. Again and again, Our Lord pleads with us to stay awake and be prepared, because we do not know the day or the hour. Just as Jesus slipped into the world quietly and without advance notice on the very first Christmas Day, so will it be when the world grinds to an end. Isnt it ironic that so many people think Our Lords Second Coming falls into the "lets pretend" category. . . when, of course, nothing could be more real.
Dear children of the Lord, as we begin a new church year, now is the time to prepare for all three of these advents: Jesus birth at Bethlehem his coming into our hearts by grace in just a few weeks at Christmas and his final coming at the end of the world. Let us beg God for his special blessings to make this season a holy and blessed time. Amen.
Reverend Jeffrey Lawrence is a priest of the
Diocese of Peoria, Ill. serving at St. Stephens Parish in Streator,
Ill. A convert from Judaism, Fr. Lawrence practiced law, was creative
director and a principal in an advertising agency, and was a consumer
magazine publisher before his ordination to the priesthood as a "late
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