St. Eugenia Catholic Church
First Sunday in Advent
Dec 3, 2023
P. Klaus Dietz S.J.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Advent is a very special time. The darkness and snow in Sweden invite us to sit in our home, to light candles and to listen to music. For us Christians, it’s a time of expectation and preparation. Despite all the shopping-hysteria before Christmas, for us it’s a period of waiting in silence and meditation.
What are we waiting for? The Latin word ADVENTUS means “the coming”. And so, we are waiting for the coming of the Lord. There are different levels of his coming:
- We remember how God’s people Israel during centuries waited for the Messiah.
- We can imagine how Our Lady and St. Joseph expected the birth of Jesus.
- We ourselves are preparing our hearts for the internal arrival of Jesus Christ.
- We look forward to the end of all times, when the Lord appears in power and glory, as the king of the universe and the merciful judge of mankind.
These different levels together form the liturgy of Advent. Prayers, hymns and biblical texts try to deepen our understanding of the coming of the Lord.
During the four weeks of Advent, we meet holy persons who can be special messengers of the waiting for the Lord.
- Let me first mention the prophet ISAIAH. The first readings of all the Sundays of Advent inclusive Christmas day are taken from his prophecies. He stands in the darkness but announces the light of dawn. He still promises the coming of the Messiah and the liberation of humankind. He is the man of hope.
- Secondly: Saint JOHN the BAPTIST. He has got the mission to tell people: “The kingdom of heaven is close at hand!” The near expectation of the Messiah must relate to preparation and repentance. The violet colour of Advent in liturgy marks a time of seriousness.
- And then Our Lady, the Virgin MARY: She is like all mothers waiting for the birth of the baby in her body, thankful, happy, proud and a bit fearful. And more: Holy Mary knows in a unique way that the life in her womb is the promised Messiah, the expectation of all human beings since the beginning of time.
These three holy persons are looking forward towards the coming of the Lord and they can help us to wait in a proper way for the coming of the Lord in our life, in our hearts.
But there are, too, in the four weeks of Advent, several saints who followed Jesus Christ and lived – as examples for us – different aspects of waiting for the coming of the Lord:
- Francisco Javier, S. FRANCIS XAVIER, the fervent patron of missionaries, has understood what Jesus Christ our Saviour means for us. He travelled from Christian Europe to the most distant peoples to give them the good news: in India, in the Philippines, in Japan and in China. – We, too, as disciples of Jesus have the mission to spread our faith to our fellow men and women.
- JUAN DE LA CRUZ, S. John of the Cross, is one of the most important mystics. God’s holy mystery, revealed in God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ, filled his heart. – We, too, are invited to meditate the mystery of God’s birth in our heart.
- Nicolaus, S. NICOLAS, the generous bishop of Myra in the 4th century, became through many legends a symbol of God’s goodness, which has appeared in Jesus Christ. As Santa Claus (or the Swedish Jultomte) he still is the children’s friend and gives them Christmas gifts (Julklappar). – We, too, must be generous and make the goodness of God concrete (today the collection is for Caritas, the Catholic help organisation).
- LUCIA, the holy virgin and martyr from Sicily, is the bringer of light and beauty in the darkness of the Nordic winter. Beyond all the nice Swedish traditions around Santa Lucia, we understand her radical love to Jesus Christ. – And we must question: How deep is our love to the Lord? Would we offer our life to follow him?
These four and other saints make Advent a wonderful time. Let us during this period deeper understand our Christian identity and so become real friends of the Lord! Then Advent will be a blessed period in our Christian life.