Let us truly and with purpose thirst for Christ’s coming. Let us be absorbed, moved, persuaded and changed by Advent.
'God is here, he has not withdrawn from the world, he has not deserted us. Even if we cannot see and touch him as we can tangible realities, he is here and comes to visit us in many ways'. (Pope Benedict XVI)
As the First Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the Church year in the West, so too should Advent mark the start of a new day in our faith lives. That our nation, a society whose soul not so long ago might have been described as "church", is persistently marching away from "Advent" and all its depth of meaning is unarguable. One has to ask, "Do we cherish Christ’s ‘presence’; are we longing for our Savior’s ‘arrival’; do we awake before the daystar rises, anticipating those moments when the horizon will soon burn with color, ignited with dazzling hues which signal the end of night?
While the term "Advent" is derived from the Latin, Adventus, which means "coming", Pope Benedict pointed out that the essential meaning of the word is: "God is here, he has not withdrawn from the world, he has not deserted us. Even if we cannot see and touch him as we can tangible realities, he is here and comes to visit us in many ways."
That is what sustains Catholics, other Christians and all the people of the world who look to the one true God: he "is here, he has not withdrawn", nor has he "deserted us." We realize this most clearly by contemplating what the Father predestined for us from the beginning: a divine plan that would draw men back to God; a plan that our Savior would embrace, endure, and complete; a Final Covenant sealed in the most precious blood of the Son of God. Look upon the Cross, and indeed you shall see that our God has never deserted anyone.
"In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Lk. 1:78-79).
As we enter fully into Advent and prepare for Christ’s coming we realize more and more that he is indeed already here. All is sustained in Christ, all is for Jesus. If our Lord were to abandon us we could not speak, nor see, nor draw another breath. Further, we should not have lived at all. Therefore let us never doubt the presence of our Lord.
"All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race" (Jn. 1:1-4; NAB).
Christ is present in our lives in an immense way; the full dimension of His presence is far beyond our understanding. Yet the more prayerful we are, the more we embrace our Lord’s call to holiness, the more we see and understand. In love we see Love and in Love there is light. By the light of Christ, as he ignites a fire within our soul, we begin to see his Light all around us: it is in a child’s eye as she studies the petals of a rose; it is in the inflection of a youngster’s voice as he prays at the onset of night; it is in the song of a bird high in the branches of a tree illuminated by God’s sun; it is reflected on the waters of a cool stream. Let us truly live for Light; let us reject darkness; let us truly and with purpose thirst for Christ’s coming. Let us be absorbed, moved, persuaded and changed by Advent.
Let us especially embrace Christ’s ‘coming’ and ‘presence’ in the Eucharist. When we partake of Eucharist at Mass Christ truly arrives, filling us with his true body, blood, soul and divinity. The Eucharist is divine sustenance for the soul: priceless spiritual food and drink; for Christ’s flesh is real food and his blood is real drink. (cf. Jn. 6). What an unfathomable treasure our King has given Catholics; what beauty Christ instituted at the Last Supper.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the sacrament of Eucharist is "unique" and that it is, through Christ’s presence, raised above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life". Advent should therefore draw us toward the Eucharist, where Christ makes himself wholly and entirely present.
"The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.’ This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present." (CCC # 1374).
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