Today is the first Sunday of Advent. It is the beginning of the new liturgical year. There are four Sundays, called Advent, prior to the birth of Jesus. Advent is a time for individual personal preparation to welcome Jesus into our life. It is the time for renewal, the time to look deep into our hearts and the time to reflect about our faith journey to see how closely we are on the right path, the path Jesus once said:
I am the way the truth and the life -Jn 14,6.
Each year the Church invites us to give a special time to celebrate the two significant events of the liturgical year: Easter and Christmas. Each event is celebrated apart, at a different time of the year and yet they are related to form a life span of a person. It is the celebration of a new life on earth and a new eternal life in God's kingdom. It is true to say there is no dead without birth or no Easter without Christmas. We celebrate the birth of Jesus with the expectation that by his cross and resurrection he has set us free from the bondage of sin and dead. Birth and death are two separate events of a human life and that is the reality of life. Our parents made the preparations to welcome us into their lives; Jesus makes the preparations to welcome us into God's kingdom and we are free to take the offer. Advent reminds us to take the offer Jesus made by staying awake and being active welcoming Jesus into our life. To do it effectively we need to set aside time for reflection and personal examination daily. There is no need to live in despair but in hope and look forward into the future to Join Jesus when our earthly journey is ended. The colour for Advent is purple because it associates to penance, fasting, and royalty- the Feast Christ the King of the Universe we celebrated last Sunday.
Christmas and Easter link together and that explains why the First Advent Sunday Gospel reading is taken from the last chapter St. Luke before the passion narrative. Jesus reminded his disciples about the necessity for vigilance and prayer as they waited for his second coming in glory. The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the persecution and tribulations were the signs of the time. Jesus told his disciples of time, destruction and fear. It would bring fear and frighten for those who have no faith in Jesus. For Jesus' disciples there is no need to live in fear, but rather stand firm in praying for strength, have faith in him and belief that he would never leave us alone in times of distress. If we believe what his prediction of fear and frighten were to be correct; we then should have more faith in his message about finding strength and consolation in him. Everyone has already encountered events and circumstances that could lead us to despair. Through prayer and faith in Jesus, we have found strength and consolation in Jesus' words. He has promised to stay with us till the end of time Mat 28,20. Acts of charity and prayer would help us to see the presence of Jesus in our midst. In the midst of chaos and destruction of life Jesus offers hope and peace.