If we are receiving Christ regularly in the Eucharist, why do we need Advent? Isn’t his coming into our life an endless Advent?
To answer this, we need to ask why we celebrate birthdays. No doubt it is to revel in the first moment we entered this life. Although birth is a once in a lifetime event, celebrating its precious moment calls for heartwarming repetition.
Birthdays are a special time for gathering with loved ones, prizing the community we inherited and being grateful for the nourishing relationships we enjoy.
Like a memorable birthday, Advent is an opportunity to once again reflect on that precious moment we were born and God came into our lives. It is also a time to reflect on the wonderful supportive relationships that have sustained us.
Advent is likewise a call to renew our awesomeness in being selected to be a participant in God’s creation. As wonderful as is receiving the Eucharist repeatedly, it can become perfunctory and lose some of its awesomeness. Special moments of gratitude like Advent need to be generated to deepen our awesomeness.
Advent encourages us to examine Christ’s impact on our life more closely. Has our understanding of him during the year caused us to grow in exemplifying his example?
Pope Francis points out in his encyclical Laudato Si’ that our world is interconnected by the laws of nature with which God endowed it. Advent encourages us to recall how these interconnecting laws sustain our life. It is a time to appreciate the world’s interconnectedness, the beauty of nature it generates and the horn of plenty it provides.
Most important, Advent is an opportunity to reflect on the depth of our loving service and how well we have imitated Christ’s unselfish love in dying for us.
Celebrations like Advent are essential to lives that sometimes get distracted, preventing us from getting as close as we should to Christ. It is an opportunity to counter our hurried environment and leave it behind for a moment.
In his book, "Leisure: The Basis of Culture," author Josef Pieper highlights the importance of gazing in a way in which distractions are minimal and we make time for one person. In the case of Advent, the person we make time for is Christ. We put other things aside to focus on Christ and his birth and existence. No better joy exists than cultivating this intimacy.
Simply put, this relationship helps us achieve a sacramental union and that is the heart of Advent’s purpose.
Father Hemrick is a columnist for Catholic News Service.
Tags: Catholic Beliefs