I am sure many of us have had an experience of going to the bus stop or the airport to wait for the arrival of a friend, a loved one, a guest or someone special. After what seems to be an interminable delay, we are overcome with joy when we see our loved one emerging from the Arrival terminal.
We begin to forget our long wait, our restlessness and all our inconveniences. Our emotions begin to tell a different story, that our long wait was important, meaningful and worthwhile, after all. Likewise, during Advent the coming of the Lord into our lives fills us with high expectations of abounding joy, love, hope and a sense of destiny with its crowning moment at Christmas.
St Luke who accompanies our reflection during Sundays of Ordinary Time of Year C, invites us kindly to “watch and pray” (Lk 21: 36). Prayer can be defined as an act of raising our minds and hearts to God. It opens our eyes to the presence of God, helping us to see everything in proper perspective, and nurture in our heart’s peace, even in the midst of problems and pains. Keeping watch invites us to be vigilant and exercise spiritual oversight in our life of faith. Vigilance necessitates discernment through which we are able to sense the abiding presence of God in our lives, distinguish between what is right and wrong, what is good and evil and have moral courage to live according to the teaching of the Gospel.
“Discernment”, Pope Francis insists: “We need it at all times, to help us recognize God’s timetable, lest we fail to heed the promptings of his grace and disregard his invitation to grow.” The Holy Father, makes an appropriate invitation that can help us celebrate the Advent Season fittingly, “I ask all Christians not to omit, in dialogue with the Lord, a sincere daily ‘examination of conscience’” (Gaudate et Exsultate, 109).
In the final analysis, advent prepares us for the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, which recalls in the history of salvation God’s faithfulness and stupendous love. God so loved the world that he sent us his only Beloved Son, so that we may experience life in its fullness. So, we have every reason to live in joyful hope for the final coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to establish once and for all the Kingdom of God.
“Hope is a vital part of life. We spend a great deal of our lives longing, waiting, hoping for one thing or another. It is impossible to live when one is completely without hope. Hope is as important for our spirit as bread is for our body. Our strength, our commitment, depends to a great extent on the degree and quality of our hope” (Fr. Flor McCarthy, SDB).