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Here we are in the middle of Advent. From the Latin, ‘Advent’ means that we are heading for “a coming, an approach, or an arrival.” Advent leads up to Christmas, but the season is much more than a sentimental waiting for a new Baby Jesus, as reflected in our children’s funny and wonderful portrayals in their school nativities. The need for adult Christianity and the actual message of Jesus is crucial today and we cannot allow the wonder of Christmas or its preparation in Advent to be diluted. The current suffering, injustice, oppression, and devastation on the earth are too enormous for us to settle for an infantile Gospel or a baby Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth taught that that the kingdom of God and our being part of it requires a great deal of us personally, such as surrender, simplicity, radical love, and solidarity with those who are suffering.

Advent is a time to focus our anticipation not only on the Incarnate God born on earth, but on the Eternal, Universal, Redeeming Christ, long before the child in the manger came into existence, and way into the distant future. Jesus is the God-ordained expression of the mystical union of human and divine, in a single historical life and person. The Christ includes but also goes further than Jesus, because he is beyond space and time. Jesus is the solid, ‘written in stone’ and personal embodiment of total, absolute Love. Christ is the template and iconic stamp of God’s infinitely loving presence and plan, always, everywhere, and for all time. It is for this adult and cosmic Christ that we wait and it is because of him we trust in a second coming.

The mystery of Christ is revealed whenever we are able to see both the psychic and the physical co-existing together, at any moment in time, and in any person. God’s hope for all Creation is that humanity will one day be able to recognize its own dignity and truth as the dwelling place for the divine, which it also shares with the rest of creation. And if we cannot honour the human dignity in ourselves and in others, how can we even begin to recognize and honour the inherent dignity of apple trees, flying birds, horses or earth and water?

God has created us to go on creating ourselves, and we are called to be co-creators with God, as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans (Rom.8:28). The idea that something is unfolding, and coming to a fullness, is an active, ongoing process, and we are all part of it; the movement of the Cosmic Christ bringing humanity to wholeness, which in turn gives us purpose, hope and confidence. In turn, it demands a foundational belief in a world that continues always to unfold. When we ‘get in the way’ and demand some or other completion to history on our terms, or demand that our dissatisfaction with the world be taken away, we are refusing to step into Advent; we are refusing to hold out for the evolution Christ brings to humanity, and we are refusing to leave the full field of the future in God’s hands while agreeing to hold the present with humility.

Perfect fullness has yet to come, and we do not need to demand it now. The path of life is wide open to grace and to adventure created by God through our surrender to his love and our creative participation in that same love. This is what it means to be in Advent - alive, conscious, attentive, perceptive, anticipating. Advent is, above all else, a call to full awareness and a revelation concerning the cost of that awareness.

This is the Good News Mary and Joseph received from the angels in a real and concrete way, as did the shepherds and, via a star, the magi. We can trust that history, and our place within the larger history is moving purposefully in a positive direction. Trusting the Christ Mystery, we must participate in the movement toward the fullness of all Creation’s union in Love. This is what Advent is truly all about. This is our Advent.