Advent comes from the Latin meaning to come or to arrive. During Advent, we celebrate, anticipate, and prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus. We celebrate his first coming in the Incarnation, but we also anticipate his Second Coming to judge:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (Matthew 25:31-32)
In addition, we prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus into our lives and hearts. Jesus tells us to “take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33) While not as strict as Lent (and not a penitential season), Advent is a time of preparation that should include self-reflection, fasting, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation (although none of this is limited to Advent!).
Part of how we prepare ourselves is to love our neighbor by announcing the Good News to others and practicing the works of mercy. Do we really “prepare the way of the Lord” in our words and deeds like John the Baptist? Are we filled with such awe of God’s presence in our lives that we unselfishly run out to share His love with others in need like Mary visiting Elizabeth? Do we exclaim with joyful anticipation “Come, Lord Jesus”?
As we celebrate this Advent season,
May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)