Jesus is coming!
In the Book of Revelation, we hear of “the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty” (1:8). The phrase appears twice more in the book (21:6 and 22:13). Revelation is a difficult book, but, as its author says, it is about Jesus Christ (1:1) It speaks of the end times and new beginnings, which have been the themes of many early Advent readings. Since at least the fourth century, Christians have known “the Alpha and the Omega” (the beginning and the end) as one of Jesus’ most memorable titles and with it, Jesus identifies himself as being one with the Father.
This Sunday’s Gospel from Luke tells us about John the Baptist, “a voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’”
So how do we prepare, during an already busy Advent, for the coming of the Almighty?
Advent celebrates the coming of Jesus — the Word of God — in three ways:
- at Bethlehem (a time in the past);
- coming into our lives each day (the present that is);
- and the coming at the end of time (what is to come.)
All three times require reflection and action. Spend this week of Advent reflecting on Jesus coming in each time, from your own perspective. And then act as the Spirit moves you. Here are some suggestions:
The one who was
- As you light the second candle on your Advent wreath, or watch one lit at church, think about the past week. How did Jesus show up? Was he at work? In traffic? Was he in an unexpected phone call? Did that change your week?
- Think back to someone you have not seen for a while. Does thinking about them remind you of Jesus? Does it remind you of something you may need to apologize for? Or forgive? Or maybe you just pray for that person to find Jesus in their own lives this Advent?
- What Christmas gift did you get last year that really touched your life? Or the year or a decade before that — that brought meaning to your life? Do you still have it? Who gave it to you? That was a moment of love — and God is love — that touched your life. Savor it.
The one who is
- Right now, in this moment, think about Jesus. Imagine him standing in front of you. Is he an adult? A child? A baby? What do you need to share with him right now? (Remember, that’s a form of prayer.)
- What can you do for Jesus, right now, today? Can you make one donation from the many requests we all get in the mail and email? Are you making any holiday treats? Can you make a little extra for a neighbor or someone at work who needs a pathway smoothed for them?
- Turn on a Christmas special or listen to some Christmas music. Yes, it’s early for Christmas, because it’s still Advent, but just maybe there is a message for you from Jesus there.
The one who is to come
- There is a poster that says “Plan ahead” … with the words starting out large and ending small and then running off the page. It’s hard to plan well. But we know Jesus is coming again, for each of us personally at the end of our life, and at the end of time. How are you preparing? One way might be to plan to attend a penance service or receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
- When you are out shopping, plan to purchase an extra gift for the Toys for Tots campaign, or food for one of the Christmas dinners that are offering free meals this year.
- This week, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a holy day of obligation, so plan to attend Mass. Mary plays a central role in Advent. And she continues to play a role in leading us to her son. If you have time, you might want to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion. Or visit virtually at championshrine.org.
- You can also stop at your own church or a nearby church and light a candle. Votive candles last for a day or a week. Even after you leave, they stand as silent witnesses to your prayers.