Advent begins this weekend. Most likely, our preparations for Christmas have already begun weeks or even months ago. The Gospel readings in this season introduce us to one of the most suggestive themes of Advent: the visit of the Lord to humanity. There are three times that the Lord comes to us: the first time, in the past, with the Incarnation and Birth of Jesus at Christmas. That is what we commemorate each year; The second is in the present, as Jesus visits us continually, every day, in the Eucharist; the final visit, in the future, is when Jesus “will come again in glory, to judge the living and the dead.” We read the Gospel of the last judgment last Sunday.
The Gospel, especially at the beginning of Advent, is not trying to frighten us, but to urge us on to seek the presence of Jesus in places and events that we may not have thought about. We are being invited to an attitude of seriousness, of sobriety, not letting ourselves be dominated by the things and worries of this world, but rather to keep them in their proper place. If we fall into that temptation, we will not be able to understand what is even more important, the third visit of Jesus, our final encounter with the Lord.
Pope Francis tells us that, during Advent, we are called to enlarge the horizons of our hearts, to allow ourselves to be surprised by life, as each day presents us with something new. There are people that come into our lives who may give us a whole new perspective on faith and our relationship with Jesus. We cannot only depend upon our own plans and the safety we surround ourselves with, because the Lord comes when we don’t imagine. We have to let ourselves be astonished, even beyond our imagination. Happy Advent!