07 Editorial - Season of Contradictions and Challenge - Fr Anthony Charanghat

posted Nov 28, 2018, 6:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Nov 29, 2018, 4:49 PM ]
As our civil year is drawing to a close, the Christian community is celebrating its liturgical 'New Year' – Advent. This makes it a kind of 'beginning-end' time, a season of contradictions and challenge. A greening that springs from the old Church year; a greening of hope that there is an end, not of the world, but for the world, when human history will come full term, and God will be everything to every one. (1 Cor 15:28)

Although the images that accompany the Advent preparation in the Gospels may startle and even frighten us, such responses are caught up in the mystery of Christ, who comes with confidence to liberate us. In the midst of any suffering, tension, opportunist politics or natural disasters, the Word of God urges us to be people of Hope.

The beginning of the new liturgical year tries to make us once again, more attentive to, hopeful about, and prepared for the Advent of God–the infant child whose name is Son and Saviour, into our midst, and into our hands and heart. He stirs and comes to save, inaugurating His Kingdom of peace and love, truth and justice in our midst.

On the first Sunday of Advent of the Church year, many of us will gaze on the single burning flame lit on the Advent wreath. It seems so small and insignificant against the background of world events, and even our own lives. We are often so physically exhausted at the end of the year, that we may be inclined to be sceptical about what this tiny flickering flame can offer us.

But as we enter this season, the Church encourages us to have hope in the promises of God that can so easily flicker in and out of our consciousness. Just as at the first Genesis Creation God brought a new cosmic ordering, a new liberation from chaos of nothingness, so will Christ, in His Second coming as the glorious Son of Man, liberate the cosmos and all humanity from fear and menace.

Many are not at home with emphasis on the future at the beginning of Advent. We are comfortable about the past coming of 'baby Jesus' – but that is not where the Church wants us to be. Advent plunges us into a liturgical riptide that drags us away from the safe past into the unchartered end of human history to the second, and as yet unrealised, coming of Christ.

Advent, therefore, is preparing for facing the contradictions of the One who has come, and yet is coming, mindful that it is our life's work to conceive Christ in the Spirit, with God's grace, and to bear Jesus to our world. It is a stirring in the womb of our complacency: a time for turning and returning, for straightening crooked paths in our relationship with God.

This season challenges us to let our hopes reach beyond our fruitless preoccupation with the past to the huge and human hope of a new creation. It is the opportune time to remove the stumbling blocks that trip us on our path to good relations with our sisters and brothers along our journey of discipleship.

Advent is welcoming and befriending the vulnerable, the arid desert places in myself and others. Just as a woman watches for the signs of the birth of her child, Jesus urges us to be alert to the birth pangs of the reign of God in all its fullness. God is nurturing and preparing for the birth of a new earth and heaven.

Nor are Christians to be the captives of frantic seasonal consumerism. We are called to be people awake and alert to the promises of God already revealed. Grateful for what has been liberating, and confident in the gifts yet to come!