“No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.” Isaiah 64:3
Today begins the season of expectant, joyful waiting, the season we call Advent. As we do each year, we light the first of four candles this morning—one for each Sunday of Advent that will take us home on Christmas Day.
We think of Advent as a time of anticipation—waiting for the Christ Child and preparing for his birth. But Advent is a time of discovery as well. Here’s what I mean…
God is already present in our lives and in our relationships all of the time. Advent is an invitation to discover how and where to find the Lord. Important clues are embedded in the rituals we follow. We reach out to family… we give our children extra special attention… we decorate our homes to a fare-thee-well… and we outdo ourselves in creating memories that we hope will become part of our family histories.
Why do we do all this? Because we’re never quite satisfied with earthly things. Enough is not enough. We long for more… for the eternal and the forever after. We don’t want the joy of this moment to end. As people of faith, we have the hope and expectation that God is working in us no matter the circumstance. God always has the last word, and as we have said all year long, that word is life—eternal life, which is the promise of the Christ Child.
This has been a difficult year for all of us. But as you begin Advent, be hopeful: celebrate plenty not scarcity, celebrate the light not darkness. And celebrate the abundance of God’s love, which comes to us in the form of a child, born in a manger. Hope is how we discover God among us; it’s the gesture of welcome and the answer to our longing. Hope is God coming to our rescue when we most need the healing.
Friend, during the four weeks of Advent, take a little extra time to reflect on the past year and tell God your hopes for the year ahead. However you pray, know that God is present all of the time, working through you to make the promise of the Christ Child the greatest gift you will ever receive. May you have a blessed Advent filled with hope.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Raymond J. Finch, M.M.
Prayer for 5th Sunday
We wait for Your coming, Lord
not like the prophets of old
who longed to greet the Messiah
but for the fulfillment of Your kingdom
here on earth as in heaven.
Make each town and village
a new Bethlehem in which
the meek and lowly seek and find You
and wise sages follow their star
to worship at Your manger.
Come to us again in the poor and oppressed
the outcast and the forgotten.
May we never forget that in
serving others we serve You who
came to us two thousand years ago,
and come to us each day in each
Eucharist and whose coming
at the end of time we wait with joyful longing.
Prayer by Maryknoll Missioner, Father Joseph Veneroso