The Jesse Tree (in the Parish Church of La Trinité Porhoet, Brittany)
Dear friends in Christ
Jesus Christ will return in glory to the earth. We do not know when He will return, but Christ promised us that he would return in glory, “as light comes from the east” to bring God’s plan of redemption to its fulfilment. In the early Church, Christians expected that Christ would come soon—any day. There was hopeful expectation. They were watchful—they looked to the sky in the east to wait for Christ. And because they did not know when he would return, they proclaimed the Gospel with urgency and enthusiasm, hoping to bring the world to salvation before Christ returned. It has been nearly two thousand years now since Christ ascended into heaven. It has become easier to forget that He will come again to earth. It has become easier to forget that we must be waiting, we must be watching, and we must be ready. In the season of Advent, as we recall Christ’s Incarnation at Christmas, we are reminded to be prepared for Christ’s coming. In the Gospel for this First Sunday of Advent, Christ tells us his disciples “to be on the watch.” “You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,” Jesus says. “May He not come suddenly and find you sleeping.” We remember that Christ is coming whenever we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the Holy Mass we are made present to the sacrifice at Calvary, and to the joy of Christ’s glory in Heaven. But we also remember that Christ will return, and we remember to watch, to be vigilant, to wait for him, and to be prepared. The Mass is rich with symbolism. The vestments of the priest remind us of the dignity of Christ the King. We strike our breasts, and bow our heads, and bend our knees to remember our sinfulness, God’s mercy, and his glory. In the Mass, the ways we stand, and sit, and kneel, remind us of God’s eternal plan for us. All of this prepares us here on earth for the moment when we shall be taken-up into the fullness of the glory of Christ. May this Advent be for all of us a moment when we constantly watch-out for Christ. Let us not be so consumed with the affairs of this world that we do not see Him in His advents: in time, in the Incarnation and in His Eucharistic presence now, which foreshadows the glorious life to come. God bless you all!
Fr Kevin Hale