Today is the Second Sunday in Advent.
Why do we need Advent? Jesus already came, didn’t he? So why do we need to prepare for His coming each year?
A song we sometimes sing in Mass during the Advent season (and at other times) – God of Day and God of Darkness – helps answer that question. Jesus came – He walked on this earth, he died and he rose, but
Still the nations curse the darkness,
Still the rich oppress the poor;
Still the earth is bruised and broken
By the ones who still want more.
Advent is here again because we desperately need it. Our world desperately needs it. If you have any doubt, read the newspapers. Look at the world around us – a world in desperate need of hope, of new birth.
We need this period of waiting and preparing. Unlike those waiting for the birth of Jesus over two thousand years ago, for us the outcome of Advent is not a surprise. We go into Advent knowing the plot – we know Jesus Christ will be born. Indeed, we know the whole plot – we know that God will become human, live among us, die and then rise. So we wait each year for something we know is coming – the coming of Christmas, and our re-celebration of the birth of Christ and all that we know follows from that.
But we don’t just wait. We prepare ourselves. Advent offers us a chance to assess ourselves, to be sure we are ready to welcome Christ into our hearts, our homes, our world. It allows us to deepen our acceptance of God’s working through us to prepare for Christ’s reign. (Emphasis on “through us” – this is not a sit back and wait for God to make it all right attitude.)
And so as continue through these days of Advent, we might reflect on: What am I doing this Advent to give reality to the rule of Immanuel? How am I helping to birth Christ into the world?