By Bishop Robert W. McElroy
The season of Advent is a time of waiting upon the Lord. It is a time of immediately waiting for the celebration of Christmas, which represents God’s entry into human history to redeem us by His passion, death and resurrection. And it is also a time of deeper waiting for the ultimate coming of God’s kingdom, when we will know the face of God and witness the Lord’s triumph over every form of human suffering.
For most of the history of the Church, Advent was a time of penance and preparation. In this year, the penance is already interwoven in our lives and our world. The pain and loss of the pandemic are heartbreaking — for those who have been stricken and their loved ones, for those suffering job losses and economic hardship, for all of our families who will celebrate a distanced and muted Christmas, for those facing fear and isolation.
But the season of Advent is not ultimately a penitential reality. For at its heart, Advent is a testimony to the unshakeable conviction that our God stands with us at every moment of our lives, especially when we feel most adrift and alone.
The baby born in a manger two thou-sand years ago is the overpowering sign of the breadth and depth of God’s love for us — an intimate and personalized love reflected in Christ’s care for Zaccheus the tax collector, the Samaritan woman at the well, and the family of Lazarus. Most importantly, Advent testifies to foundation for our enduring hope and confidence that God the Father, Son and Spirit have loved us from the first moment in our mother’s womb and will love us until the end of time. So let us rejoice as Christmas approaches, not merely because we stand on the threshold of a vaccine, but because the world’s hope is once again unleashed by the birth of the child Jesus who has redeemed us all.