First Sunday in Advent - Year C - 29th November 2015

Wait in Joyful Hope

Sometimes it seems as though we spend our lives waiting: daydreaming about an upcoming summer break; worrying over a medical test; preparing for the birth of a grandchild — our days are filled with anticipation and anxiety over what the future holds.

Yet the most important things in life cannot be rushed and require patient waiting. Patient waiting is required from the mother to bring the child to birth and then from babyhood to adulthood; the teacher requires it with the children at school; the farmer must patiently wait for the harvest

As Catholics, we too spend our lives waiting. But we are waiting for something much bigger than a holiday abroad, bigger even than retirement or a wedding: Advent is the season of great expectation. Each year at this season we turn our thoughts to the wonder of the Incarnation – the birth of Jesus, Son of God, as one of us so that we could become one with God.

Some of us have known of this great event of our salvation for a long time. But we are slow to be transformed by the grace that first entered the world in the Incarnation of Jesus. For some of us the time is getting short; the day of our salvation is closer than when we first believed. May we not put off for another season our response to the coming of Christ.

Overwhelmed by the demands of the season, we can wait for Jesus in a state of anxiety, or cynicism, or harried indifference toward the miracle that is upon us. Or we can take our cue from the prayer we hear every Sunday and "wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ." Welcoming Jesus into our homes and our hearts, full of hope and joy, prepares us to properly celebrate Jesus' birth and anticipate his return.

The stories of Advent help us strike the right note as we wait: the prophecies of Isaiah and John the Baptist, full of their own firm hope; the pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth, each as joyous as it is unexpected. So also the miracles, the cures and other signs pointing the way to the coming of the Saviour. We should use these reflections to immerse ourselves in the season, and find our own hope and joy as we wait.

Let us resolve to watch and pray during this Advent season, so that when he comes he will find us waiting in eager expectation, and full of joyful hope.

Fr Kevin O'Shea C.M.