By Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes
“For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal ( 2 Cor. 4:14-16).”
In his second letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul challenges us to look beyond what confronts us in the present to what awaits us in eternity. In some respects this is counterintuitive to how we are wired – especially in today’s society that promotes instant gratification. Our packed schedules and our reliance on technology, among other things, keep us preoccupied with what is right in front of us and, unfortunately, this can distract us from the promise of our Lord’s return and our place in His Kingdom.
Fortunately for us as Roman Catholics we have a liturgical season that calls us back to this Holy long view. The season of Advent invites us to rediscover the art of waiting in hope. It’s probably no coincidence that it falls when our busyness is really kicking into high gear. Ministries are in full swing, the school year is underway and “the holidays” are nearly upon us. Amidst all of this, is a season of patience and anticipation.
The readings of the first half of Advent focus on the return of our Lord Jesus Christ; we look at our own readiness. Have we been the faithful servant of Jesus’ parable in the Gospel of Matthew? In the latter half of Advent we reflect on the hope and anticipation of the Lord’s birth, foretold by the prophets and given life in the ultimate faith of Our Blessed Mother. When we call to mind and spirit the events that led to the coming of Jesus (it wasn’t all smooth sailing, remember) perhaps we kindle in ourselves that same hope for His return. This also allows us to fully experience the joy of the Christmas season that immediately follows.
This Year of Faith that our Church has just begun invites us to reconnect with our Catholicity by renewing our relationship with the Lord and committing to know more about our faith by studying the Catechism and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The Catechism teaches us that the seasons of liturgical calendar together depict the unfolding of the one Paschal Mystery. How important it is then that we don’t relegate our observance of Advent to the backburner but that we truly immerse ourselves in the coming fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of salvation. That part of our journey is just too important to miss.
I offer you my prayers for a blessed Advent. May you be truly alive in faith during this season.
PUBLISHED IN THE NOVEMBER 2012 INLAND CATHOLIC BYTE