This weekend we begin a new Church year with the opening of the Season of Advent. Advent is, in part, a kind of “new year” celebration for the Church.
In the last weeks of “the old year” and the first weeks of ”the new year” the liturgy of the Church focuses on the final coming of Jesus in glory and the fulfillment of God’s plan for creation.
As a society we shun death, we push death under the rug, we are hesitant to speak of death. Parents often find their children unwilling to have the conversation about funeral plans and estate plans.
Yet Christian practice and tradition has always emphasized that creation has a purpose and a destiny – and each of us share in that destiny. The meaning of human life and destiny is only complete with rebirth into eternal life.
The older we get the more the realization of our mortality comes into focus for us. Yet, from the first moment of life in Christ, baptism, we are told: “all who are baptized into Christ Jesus are baptized into His death. If we have died with Christ in baptism, we are destined to rise with Him in glory.”
From our earliest days we are reminded of our invitation to share the things of Heaven. One of the first prayers I was taught was my night prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord me soul to take.”
In Advent let us remember Christ’s comings: first in history in Bethlehem, His final coming in the end time, and his daily coming in our lives. Let us keep one eye fixed on today and the other eye fixed on our future glory. Often during the Advent Season the final prayer of the Mass is: Lord, God, help us to use wisely the things of this earth and to love deeply the things of heaven.
Father Steve Adrian