If you’re like me, you may be thinking, “Here we are again—on the cusp of Advent. How did that happen?” The season seems to catch us by surprise each year, especially with all the preoccupation over Thanksgiving arrangements and the distraction caused by Black Friday mania the day after.
Yet this year we’ve received extra special incentive to pause on the brink of a new Church year and reflect on where we are and where we’re heading. Advent is a journey, after all—a journey of great expectation for the coming of our Savior into human history and into our hearts. The liturgy during these next few weeks will guide us in how to live this precious time in readiness and prayerful, expectant waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise. But this year I’m also taking as my Advent starting point the hope-filled words contained in Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”).
In this document, Pope Francis is pointing the entire Church in a direction useful not only during the coming liturgical season, but one that will prove a sure guide “for the Church’s journey in years to come” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 1). In a word, he is inviting us to deepen our relationship with Christ, to fall in love even more deeply with Jesus, and to unleash in our world today the joy that is the fruit of his love for us. This, he explains, is the heart of the new evangelization to which each of us is called through our baptism.
Advent is the perfect time to renew our encounter with Christ and root ourselves anew in the Gospel, the good news of his “boundless and unfailing love” (no. 3). If we’re honest with ourselves, the Pope seems to imply, we sometimes push Jesus away and turn from his love. Yet he is always ready, waiting for us with arms opened wide. (We’re used to focusing on how we “wait” during Advent, yet it is God who patiently waits for us!) Wrapped again in his redeeming embrace, our joy is restored. And once this saving love has been truly experienced, it cannot be contained. We have to share the Lord’s goodness, his faithful love and mercy, with others.
This is what the Pope is calling us to. Isn’t this what Advent is all about? Not only welcoming Christ into our own hearts, but concretely living and sharing joy, the joy of the Gospel, with every brother and sister in him; helping him be born anew in the lives of others.
This Advent, in a new way, may the Word of God find a home within you and within those you love.
by Sr. Donna W. Giaimo, FSP
Read The Joy of the Gospel today.