The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be.
Despite human mind’s almost infinite capacity to imagine and remember as well as the heart’s capacity to love, the fact is that our memories fail us and our hearts fall far short of loving unconditionally. One therefore needs constant reminder/s regarding the ultimate goal of our earthly sojourn involving our minds and hearts.
As the end of another calendar year approaches, Christians begin a new Liturgical year from this Sunday. It’s first phase known as the season of Advent is a time specifically dedicated for the spiritual preparation for Christmas. Pope Benedict XVI, while still a Cardinal, once wrote: “…Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope… It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open the doors of hope.”
In many countries and in some of the big Indian cities too, shops and malls are already decorated with Christmas trees, stars and, of course, Santa Claus with his white flowing beard. They are accompanied by Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is coming to Town, music. Commercial enterprises need neither reminding nor training in the techniques of exploiting the superficial level of consciousness that we ordinary human beings tend to slip into and often keep floating there.
The Bible passages along with special prayers during Advent are selected in such a way so as to keep the seeker on track, not just about the memory of Jesus’ birth in a small village of Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, but to help him/her enter ever deeper into the mystery of God’s unprecedented choice to become one like us.
Advent then is a reminder for us to strive more intensely to focus and meditate on what the forthcoming Christmas event can mean for us here and now. It is a time to attentively listen to what the Bible says, “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him… The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth and all people will see God’s salvation’.” The Bible is full of challenges, which with God’s help can lead us into living holier life. That is also the reason that the Church considers this time before Christmas as the “Holy season of Advent”.
The world is not as just, not as loving, not as whole as we know it can and should be. But the coming of Christ and his presence among us gives us the reason to live in the hope, that light will shatter the darkness, that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices because God now pitches his tent amongst us.
Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of Parliament of Religion, can be contacted at email@example.com