Sunday November 28th : First Sunday of Advent Reflection by Brian Maher OMI
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
I sometimes think back on all the years I have been on this earth, not in a depressed or nostalgic way, but simply wondering what have I learned about life, myself, God during all those years? No matter how many years we have lived on this planet, be it ten or a hundred, it is, I think, a worthwhile question to ask.
Take Advent as an example: The greatest moment of the Cosmos when our God, King of the Universe as we celebrated last week, deigned to come among us, to share our joys and sorrows, our successes and failures, our pain and suffering, even our death, for only one reason; to show us how much God loves us.
It is mind blowing, too good to be true…… and yet…….it is true!
It is the ‘Incarnation,’ it is what Christmas is about, it is that for which the four weeks of Advent prepares us.
So, what have I learned? I can well remember looking into the crib with the wonder of a child, I can remember looking into the crib with the enthusiasm and idealism of an adult and, more recently, I have looked into the crib with, what I would like to call, the wisdom of age. The question I ask myself: Over all those many decades of Advents how has my understanding of the mystery of Christmas changed? If I still look into the crib with the understanding of a child, then, surely, I have missed out on many, many, many opportunities to grow as an adult Christian.
Perhaps someone reading this will say: But the Incarnation is a mystery, and a mystery cannot be understood.
I remember reading once that ‘a mystery is not something that cannot be understood; a mystery is something that has infinite understandings.’
Can I understand the mystery of the Incarnation? Yes, I can! – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)…that’s it! But the wonder of the Incarnation is that every time I think about it or bring it to my prayer there is something ‘new’ for me to see and learn. There is always … always … some new wonder waiting to surprise me, to bring me deeper into a love which allowed God to become one of us.
Looking back on my (far too many) decades of Advents I will admit that I am disappointed in myself. Was Christmas morning a little bit ‘new’ every year I celebrated it? Sadly, no!
But the wonder of our God is that it is never too late to start again. I can start this very Sunday to prepare for this Christmas. That’s what Advent is after all. If I want to, I can look into the crib this Christmas and see that tiny child lying in the manger in a ‘new’ way. I can understand just a little more clearly how incredible, how overwhelming, the love of God really is.
This week’s Gospel: “Watch yourself, stay awake,” so that the “cares of this life” (of this Christmas, the preparations we must make – presents, food, planning, etc.) don’t enclose you “like a trap,” preventing you from entering into the wonderful “liberation” that is God’s love for us.
That may be stretching today’s Gospel a little bit, but remember, God speaks to us in a uniquely personal way.
Many years ago, I remember being at a children’s musical production and two lines of one song always remained with me for some reason: Let me finish by quoting them because somehow, I think they hold the key to Advent:
“Christmas isn’t Christmas
Till it happens in your heart,
Somewhere deep inside you
Is where Christmas really starts.”
The mystery of Christmas is something that must happen deep in our hearts. That, for me, is the invitation of today’s Gospel.
Brian is the director of Oblate Partners in Mission and is based at Denis Hurley House, Quex Road, Kilburn. If you have any comments, questions or thoughts on this scripture reflection, please feel welcome to email Brian at email@example.com
Thank you for reading and reflecting with us!
That day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.
‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’
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