"Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come" (Mk 13:33). Two words from Jesus' admonition to his disciples capture the meaning of the season of Advent: "watchful" and "time." The word "advent" is derived from the Latin "adventus," which means "coming." It is a liturgical season marked by watchfulness, alertness, and vigilance for the coming of the Lord. Advent invites us to be awake to the Lord's presence among us, not just in the past but today. The Lord has come. He will come again. We look back to when he came over two thousand years ago, at Christmas. We also look forward to his Parousia, his coming in the future at a time we do not know. What is the clarion call at this time? "Be watchful! Be alert!"
To keep watch is to be attentive to the moment, to devote ourselves to the life of holiness in our daily living. Prophet Isaiah says this clearly in the following words addressed to God: "Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!" (Is 64:4). Advent as an in-between time helps us focus on what is most important- Jesus, and his Lordship over us at every moment of our life. Advent is the time to focus on spiritual preparation for Jesus. We must strive not to conform to the secular spirit of worries and anxieties over decorations and shopping for gifts (though they are essential, they have their proper time). Ecclesiastes wrote, "There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens" (3:1). Advent is primarily a time of preparation and expectation.
The four weeks of Advent, the next twenty-two days, is a time for spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ. We ought to be ready now and always for his coming. We must always long for him and be firm in our resolution to be attentive to his presence at every moment. As St. Paul encourages, use this time meaningfully to keep your body and soul in union with Jesus "as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1: 7-8).
We offer spiritual opportunities to help us all keep a watchful disposition during this preparation time. Consider spending more time on what is essential:
· Attend daily masses if God gives you the time and health.
· Get an Advent wreath candle, and pray as a family after you light a new candle each week of Advent.
· Participate in daily adoration from 7 am before weekday masses.
· Please plan to attend our monthly Eucharistic adoration on Monday, December 4.
· Go to confession during opportunities provided between Sunday masses, especially at our Advent penance service on December 15.
· Make sure you attend Mark Forrest's led Eucharistic adoration parish mission on Sunday, December 17.
· Find quiet time to meditate on the coming of Jesus by reading the bible daily.
· Advent has a penitential character (no Gloria, limited display of flowers, purple vestments, etc.), so make sacrifices and do penances.
There is one more "coming" that we should prepare for. Bishop Timothy Senior, the bishop of our diocese, is coming to celebrate the 10:30 am mass with us on December 10. I invited the bishop, who chose to visit us on that date (we are not in the dark about this coming!). As your pastor and servant, I highly implore everyone who can attend that mass to please do so, even if you already attended mass on Saturday at 4 pm and 8:30 am mass on Sunday. The more, the merrier. We should strive to fill the pews. We will have a reception in our parish hall after mass. Please, let us come and meet our bishop and pray with him. Thanks for planning to attend.
Please remember the coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of BVM. It is a holy day of obligation, and I will offer three masses between Thursday evening and Friday evening to make it possible for many to attend. If you did not start a novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception on November 29, it is okay to join now. May our Blessed Mother pray for us as we strive for holiness.
Fr. Alayode Bernard Oniwe, OP