CANON ANTHONY WRITES:
Each year, throughout our lives, there can be new beginnings; there is a new beginning when the new year starts, as we celebrate a birthday we might see that as a new beginning, an opportunity to start again, and when someone one forgives us that too allows a new start. Today, as we begin this season of Advent this also is a new beginning, a new beginning of a year in the life of the Church, another year as we continue our journey of faith, as we continue to grow in our relationship with God.
The message of the Gospel calls us to be ready to welcome Jesus as the anchor of our lives, our true Saviour, and to prepare for his return at the end of time. It’s an open invitation to make a new start in our personal spiritual journey.
Advent, almost inevitably, prompts us to contemplate the preparations we need to make for the coming feast, and it is good that we have a sense of anticipation, of excitement at what we are to celebrate. But there is also a note of urgency and summons to alertness in both the second reading and the gospel today; and the alertness we are called to is to be alert to ourselves, to make sure we prepare ourselves.
Our life of faith is, we might say, a constant story of striving to be ready, to be ready for the coming of the Lord, whether that is at the end of time, or at the end of our lives. St Paul recognises that none of us are perfect, that our lives are incomplete in terms of being ready before God. That is why he encourages us: “we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life you are meant to live: the life that God wants…”
The gospel faces us with this question about how alert we are to our real selves. We are supposed to belong to Christ; have we really lived as if that were true? A new beginning brings with it new opportunities, opportunities to reflect on ourselves, and then to grow and to change, so as to live the kind of life we are meant to live.
Advent is a time of waiting, a time for patience, a time of waiting patiently for the coming of the Lord, so may we use this time well to reflect on whether we are living as God wants, and in the light of that to discover how ready we are for the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ.