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Celebrating Advent

December 6, 2007
[This blog comes from Fr. Gordon Kennedy, C.S.B., who helps us out here at Salt + Light. You can catch Fr. Gordon on the Advent round table Focus episode which airs Thursday December 6th and Sunday, December 9th at 7pm and 11pm ET]
Our Mother and Our SaviourOf all the Seasons on the Church’s Calendar, I think that the Season of Advent is the one with which we can most easily identify. Advent points to the sense we have as humans, that our life on earth is less than fully complete. Advent reminds us of life’s limitations -- of how we never feel quite fully-fulfilled. There are lots of good times in life. We call these our blessings, joys, happiness! But we are very conscious of the hard times too. We enjoy our job but I suspect (once in a while at least), if we could choose not to go to work, we’d probably rather just stay home or go golfing.
And there’s sickness, incurable diseases, growing old – our own aging or that of family and friends close to us. And there are broken relationships that cause heartbreak. Crime, violence, accidents and war illustrate the brokenness of the human condition. And there’s the finality of earthly life that is called death! These are the experiences in life which we would never choose, but which we are helpless to control, to overcome or put a stop to. These experiences are the opposite of what will enable us to feel fully fulfilled; they frustrate our “every heart’s desire” being totally satisfied, and we go on, wishing life to be freed of “bad things” in life. They make us keenly aware of our helplessness, our incompleteness and our limitations. They remind us that the earthly condition is finite, not infinite! We wish for more than we have here and now; for more than we are. But in earthly life, it is not ours to have!
Advent assures us that it’s OK to want “the more” because that points to our spiritual side, to faith which is at work in our longing. So we hope, and we hunger, and we thirst, eagerly awaiting the MORE that God promised us in Jesus! Advent, for Christians, commemorates (re-lives) the same experiences as the Israelites felt while they awaited the Birth of Jesus, the Messiah, in days of old.
So we need to reclaim Advent and resist society pushing us to rush into Christmas. We need to reclaim Advent because without the balance that Advent offers us we will miss the real meaning of Christmas.
The secular world with its commercialism places an excessive emphasis on material things and even tends to suggest that the secular world, -- earthly life -- can give us (or worse still, is giving us) all that our hearts desire!
But this is a lie!
The secular world cannot give us anything beyond the limitedness of the earthly condition.
So we need to rediscover that Advent is not first and foremost for us to prepare for the secular aspects of Christmas, but is rather to focus on real, every day life as it is. It is an invitation for us to focus on Christ’s Second Coming at the End of Time. In Advent 2007, let’s find ways to foster our relationship with our God, with Jesus and with one another so that Christ will be constantly reborn in our hearts our whole life through.
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