Happy New Year! This Sunday marks the beginning of the start of the Church’s liturgical year, therefore, for Catholics, it is technically New Year’s Day! Today is also the start of Advent, a word which comes from a Latin word, advenio which means ‘to come to.’ This ties in nicely with the threefold nature of Advent:
1) Christ’s first coming as a baby born in Bethlehem.
2) How He comes to us in the here and now, in each moment of each day.
3) His second coming at the end of time.
Throughout Advent there is this call to prepare ourselves and be ready to reflect upon Jesus’ birth, to receive Him in the now and to be ready when He comes again.
What I want to reflect on this week is the second point, how Christ comes to meet us in the present. We are continuously growing in our relationship with Jesus, as you do with any relationship! We are always being called to a greater depth in our relationship with God – we can never reach a point where we say, “I know you well enough now, we don’t need to get any closer…” With God that’s just not going happen! Advent calls on us to renew our purpose in striving to come closer to Him, just as He came so close to us by becoming human and being born in Bethlehem. We are called to dive deeper into His love and life-giving relationship. Jesus waits for us to turn to Him in each moment of each day, to give us His peace, His strength, His love and to fulfil us in a way no-one else can.
One of the best ways to do this is through the Eucharist; a Sacrament which takes on a special significance at this time of year. The Eucharist captures the whole reason why Jesus became man and was born in a stable in Bethlehem in the first place, so He could have that relationship with us and become one with us, as he does at Mass when we receive Him in Holy Communion. In that moment we are totally immersed in that most perfect expression of love. Holy Communion is that moment where heaven and earth meet and merge, a moment even the angels themselves are in awe of. It’s the purest and best kind of spiritual food, which we so desperately need in order to thrive.
A challenge for this week is to go and meet God in the Eucharist, be it through Adoration, Mass or just sitting quietly in a church during the day, and to listen to God speaking to you this Advent.