Today’s Mass readings invite us to ‘wake up’ from our slumber, to ‘stay awake’ and ‘to walk in the light of the Lord’.
During Advent we are preparing for the threefold coming of the Lord
As we remember His first coming at Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, we are invited to prepare for His final coming in glory at the end of time and we celebrate His coming in grace at every moment but especially at Christmas.

The main focus of attention on this first Sunday of Advent is His final coming in glory. Regarding when this final coming will take place nobody knows the day or hour but Jesus invites us to be ready – to be prepared! More important for each of us is the moment of our death when the Lord will come to take us to himself – many who celebrated last Advent are no longer with us and there are others for whom this will be their last Advent.

The Church begins each liturgical year with this time of preparation reminding us that the Lord has already come but that He is also coming. At a time like this we tend to make good resolutions regarding what we will do or not do – however we have learned from our experience over the years that often our efforts come to naught and we get discouraged. Is this because the focus of our attention is on our efforts and on what we are doing instead of focusing on who we are and what the Lord is doing and wants to do in our lives? On Christmas night we will hear Pope St Leo telling us “O Christian recognise your dignity!”

In a conference shortly before his death earlier this year Andre Louf reminded us that the Holy Spirit dwells in the heart of every baptised person – always interceding for us – therefore we can say that if we are in a state of grace we are in a state of prayer! Whether we are conscious of it or not the Spirit is always praying within us ‘Abba, Father’ and we know that His prayer is always heard. Prayer in this sense does not depend so much on our efforts – or perhaps our effort lies in letting go of our anxieties, and feverish activity in order to tune in to the Spirit’s prayer.

It is the same Spirit who calls out ‘Come Lord Jesus, come soon’. So instead of focusing too much on our own efforts, this time of Advent invites us to be still and empty while with Mary we make our hearts ready for His coming as we say with her at every moment and in every circumstance: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to your Word.”