1st Sunday of Advent 30 November 2014

The vast sweep of Advent

 We have come full circle, and now we begin the new liturgical year with the 1st Sunday of Advent.  Advent is perhaps the most exciting season in the Church’s Year, as it offers us many gifts to ponder on. Most obviously it prepares us for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, but as it does, Advent also combines this preparation with another perhaps less well considered reality, that of the coming of Christ in glory and the consummation of all things at the end of time. We may find it rather strange that these two realities are combined in this one season, but should we?

Our concept of time is a linear one.   Last Saturday when Barbara wound up the clock for our fund raiser, we know that it will tick forwards until it stops. Time begins at one particular moment and moves forwards without any deviation, but the exciting thing is we don’t know when our clock will stop, hence the guess work involved in predicting the minute and the hour. What is certain is we know that our clock will stop, and thus we know too that on the universal scale, time itself will also stop. Now on the cosmic scale of things, we don’t really worry too much about it, but of course we know that at a personal level our own body clock is ticking, and in the fullness of time it will reach its terminus in one way or another. The concept of temporal passing is therefore inextricably bound up with our own consciousness, and this reality is something we can form a view of, since we can think about it and look towards it.

Now the season of Advent is a great reminder to us of this temporal passing, in both a personal and a universal dimension. Advent does this by laying before us the grand landscape of the cosmos. Advent invites us to reflect on the vastness and enormity of the cosmos but as well prepares us to understand that in this vastness and enormity a purpose exists.  The revelation of this purpose comes to us through our humanity and through our ability to search and to question, to seek and to uncover that which lies at the heart of our being. Advent directs our thoughts and guides our minds as it prepares us to behold this revelation through the incarnation as the Word becomes flesh, and dwells amongst us. This has to happen through the natural means of birth, life and death. It has to come in the same temporal and time bound way which every human person experiences or it would not be real.  But the time bound and temporal horizon in which we live is burst open by the resurrection and it is in the revealing of this universal/cosmic event, that the birth we look forward to at the end of Advent is celebrated.

In its scope then Advent is vast and yet it will swiftly run its course. If we are not attentive we will fail to heed the call that Jesus makes in the gospel to stay awake and instead we will allow Advent, with all its beauty and charm to pass us by. Time will not stand still, so it is up to us to seek out a space and let the message find a sanctuary in our busy schedules. It is never easy to do, as with each passing year, there seems to be more and more to do, but Advent can help us find that moment if we look into its heart. Let us embrace the gift of this season once more and find in its treasures a seam of richness which unfolds the timeless message of the purpose towards which God calls us, namely that of revealing, through the vast sweep of time, his incarnate Son to all who can stay awake.


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