This week the Church begins a new Christian Year. The wreckage of the streamers and party from the last Sunday of the year, Christ the King, have been put away. Instead the Church looks sober dressed in purple and the season of Advent has begun. The word Advent comes from the Latin ‘Adventus’, meaning ‘coming’, itself a translation from the Greek ‘parouisa’.
Advent is a time in which we prepare for two mysteries. The first is obvious, very simply the coming of Christ at Christmas. There is nothing more special that the concept that God chooses, of his own free will, to become a human being as we are. Advent allows us through prayer, attendance at Mass, and acts of kindness and mercy, to get ready for this feast.
The second mystery we ponder is the life to come. Here we think about our own deaths, and inevitable judgement in the life to come. We are encouraged to think about how we have used our lives so far, and what more we can do to spread God’s kingdom on earth. In the words of this Sunday’s Gospel, “stay awake, praying at all times, for the strength to survive all that is to happen”.