"We're once again entering into a new year in the Church's liturgical calendar. Once again, we begin this new liturgical year by entering into Advent, this four-week period of anticipation, of looking forward. If you ask most Catholics to explain who or what we're looking forward towards, they'll immediately say that we're looking forward to the celebration of Jesus' birth on Christmas. They'd be correct by saying that, but it's not the complete answer. We're also looking forward to Christ's coming again at the end of time.
The word Advent comes from the Latin word "adventus", which translates roughly as "to come to". In this season of Advent, we prepare for Our Lord Jesus Christ "to come to" us, both in His birth which is celebrated at Christmas, but also in His second coming at the end of time. In this way, we join the Jewish people in the anticipation that they must have felt when they heard the promise of the prophet Jeremiah, which we also heard in our first reading. Just as the Jews were waiting for a great king who would free them from slavery and the bondage of the Babylonian exile, we symbolically await the coming of our great King who frees us from the slavery and bondage of sin.
St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that this symbolic anticipation is not the only reason we celebrate this Advent season. By praying that "the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all," St. Paul makes it clear that we should be preparing for "the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones." (1 Thess. 3:12-13)
Sadly, I think this preparation for Christ's second coming has been lost in large part by many Christians today. It seems as if many people view Advent as a period to get everything ready for Christmas. We have to decorate the houses and stores, spend lots of money on Christmas gifts, make Christmas goodies, and watch hours upon hours of Christmas specials. We're pretty clear on the preparing for Christmas, but few recognize the eternal significance of Advent."
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