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I am a Third Order Franciscan of the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Question of Advent

This Sunday we hear another selection from the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus asks the crowds, "What did you go out to the desert to see?" While these words refer specifically to Saint John the Baptist, it seems to me that this is the question for all of us during the Christmas season.

Each year we end one Church Year with prophetic readings of the second coming and reflective readings on the first coming. According to a December 5 Newsweek poll only 15 percent of those polled believe that Jesus Christ will return in their lifetime. This has got me wondering whether the Church has found itself in a "chicken little" position - proclaiming the coming of Christ, but no one is listening.

If you asked Christians whether they were more focussed on the return of Christ or upon making sure that there were presents under the tree, what would they say? Perhaps there needs to be a greater proclamation that our cry of Come Lord Jesus both proclaims his future return and his presence among us today. When we go to Church this Sunday, next Sunday, on Christmas Day, what is it that we are going out to see? Is it a pleasant nativity seen, a replica of the baby Jesus, or is it something more?

The second reading from Saint James calls us to patience as we await Christ's return as the farmer waits for his crops to bear fruit. So to, if we wish to make the reality of Christ more present, to make his return more present; we must plant the seeds of his presence, nurture them, and patiently wait for them to grow and bear fruit.

What are you going to Church to see? If it is not there, perhaps you forgot to bring it.


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