“Veni, Veni Emmanuel”
Advent is a season that seems to get lost in our culture. Because we so often think of the month of December as “the Christmas season” and use this time to busily prepare our homes for the celebration of Christmas, exchange gifts and send greeting cards and many more such activities. In this busy preparedness we often neglect to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. My hope is that this reflection will provide a way of making advent a journey more meaningful.
One way to prepare our hearts and more fully experience Jesus’ coming is through deepening and growing in our relationship with God. During advent we sing: “Veni, Veni Emmanuel” (O Come, O Come Emmanuel) is a synthesis of the great “O Antiphons” that are used for Vespers during the Octave before Christmas, from December 17-23. Advent can be a great time of reflection. The spirit of Advent and Christmas are expressed well in this prayer, namely: prayers of deliverance for those walking in darkness, and who are awaiting and anticipating a great light and hope (Isaiah 9:6-7), since one of the main purposes of incarnation is to provide hope. Holy Father Pope Francis says: “the Joy of the gospel fill the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus (No.1 Joy of the Gospel) in hope. Christmas begins in the hope that God will come again into our world to reveal himself as a God of newness, of possibility, a God of new things. This time of year we contemplate that hope embodied, en-fleshed, incarnated, in a newborn baby, the perfect example of newness, potential, and possibility.
Nonetheless, we live in a world in which the “bigger” and the “better” define our expectations for much of life. We have become so en-armored by super size, super stars, and high definition that we tend to view life through a lens that so magnifies what we expect out of the world that we tend not to see potential in small things, but as the prophet Zechariah reminds us we should not “despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10), because God does some of His best work with small beginnings and impossible situations. Nevertheless, during Advent, we groan and long for that newness with the hope, the expectation, indeed the faith, that God will once be faithful to see our circumstances, to hear our cries, to know our longings for a better world and a whole life (Ex 3:7-8). And it is our hope that as He came first as an infant, so he will come again as King. This is the wonder of Advent and Christmas.
At the threshold of this hope and eager waiting for the glorious second coming of our Lord, the Holy Church will unveil the Extraordinary jubilee year of Mercy on December 08, 2015 Celebrating this year of Mercy, the Holy Father Pope Francis assures us the experience of God’s grace and mercy by welcoming Christ the incarnated in our midst. He says: “the genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed.” (Joy of the Gospel). Living in the present world of uncertainties, confusion and painfulness we are called to knock at the doors of God’s house for mercy, protection and deliverance. The time of Christmas is a time of sharing; God shared his wonderful gift Jesus in the form of savior to the world and demonstrated his unfathomable love and mercy through the one sacrifice of his Son on the cross. Having experienced God’s mercy, now we are invited to demonstrate the same mercy and love to our brothers and sisters who are in need of spiritual, material and social needs. Let this advent season and Christmas be truly an extraordinary celebration of God’s love and mercy to each one of us and to our brothers and sisters.
Fr. Jacob Alvares SAC