As we enter Advent, seminarians of the Scots College will be providing weekly reflections. The first one comes from the Archdiocese of St. Andrews & Edinburgh’s Bobby Taylor.
Christmas is not far away now, and if you are anything like my mother you’ll be putting in place the preparations for the festive period, when guests expected – and unexpected – arrive at your front door. Cakes will be baked, biscuits bought and the cleaning done, all in the name of preparation. In Advent, preparation is what we are called to do, as we get ready for Christmas and the coming of the Lord.
The readings from the 1st Sunday of Advent, certainly affirm our need to prepare for the coming of our salvation in the form of our saviour, Jesus Christ. In the first reading though, it’s not preparation that we focus on. It is an invitation for us to approach Mount Zion, the mountain of the Lord where the temple was built in Jerusalem. However, we aren’t being invited to a magnificent building of bricks and mortar, it is to Jesus Christ, the temple of God that we are invited. This invitation is to unite ourselves with Jesus. That unity gives us a constant presence of Jesus in our lives, which in turn will enable us, as the prophet says, to be taught and enabled to “…walk in his paths…”
Whilst we come close to Jesus in the first reading, the second reading and Gospel give us the tools to achieve that closeness. However, they also stress the importance to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming. The imperative is all about time. St. Paul warns us that the time has come and we hear from Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, to stay awake so as not to be caught out. Maybe we are fearful about our Lord arriving at an unexpected time – but we shouldn’t be! Instead look at the arrival of Jesus, at whichever time he comes, as an opportunity. Paul tells us, with this opportunity, we must live decently, as people do in the daytime, the time when the light of God shines upon us.
Advent then, is a period of preparation for the coming of our Lord at Christmas. It is a period where we reflect on our own readiness to receive the unannounced guest. Just as we would prepare for the unexpected guest this Christmas, we can prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus by cleansing our hearts of evil and filling them with the good that the Lord himself will bring at Christmas.