I keep my eyes fixed on eternity, and from this source
I draw constancy in the midst of the confusion of Life;
freedom in my social relations and joy in spirit.
St. Raphael Kalinowski
The word advent means coming. In ancient days, a messenger would announce to a town the advent of a king or great person. This gave people a chance to prepare themselves and their city to receive the king. In order to properly receive a noble person, nothing was taken for granted, so the hard work of cleaning and repairing was done. All that effort demonstrates loyalty, respect, love, and honor for their leader. Anything less would have shown indifference.
Can you recognize advent in the quote from St. Raphael Kaliniwski? His gaze, like that of a person searching the horizon for a friend, is fixed on eternity. He longs to see the Christ. It is not an escape from the world but an enrichment of human life, a new experience of freedom and a sense of joyful expectation all centered on the return of Christ. He discovers true values that foster that preparation of meeting Christ or barriers that deaden the spirit, making the unimportant a false and meaningless imperative.
The readings for the first Sunday of Advent call for eyes fixed so firmly on the return of Christ that present living is fundamentally changed. Isaiah sees the day when instruments of death become instruments of life. It is a time when God will gather all peoples together, irrespective of language or nationality. As wonderful as that vision is, the prophet, who is speaking God’s word, calls for the people to walk in a new way that come from listening carefully to new teaching and instructions from the Lord. Old patterns of thinking and acting have to change so a people can be prepared for the coming of God’s kingdom.
No wonder, then, that Jesus urgently calls for a people who are sleep walking through life or going through the motions of a relationship with His Father to “awake.” Rather than a life deadened by every day routine, now life must be enriched in light of Christ’s return. It means taking seriously Paul’s instruction to the Romans of a night far spent and a day, the day of the Lord, that draws ever nearer that challenges people to live differently by placing in everyday life Jesus the Christ.
The first week of Advent is not merely a time to reflect and ponder the words of the Sunday readings. It is a call to live in such a way that we expect the return of the Savior by doing what we must to prepare for Him when He finally comes. Maybe the place to start is evaluating where our eyes are fixed. If it is settled on the everyday, the loud voices of the time before Christmas on passing things, then our lives and thoughts will reflect that. But if eyes are fixed on the rerun of the Lord, then everything is different. Discoveries are made of what is truly important and need to be lived. Eyes are opened to the Christ in disguise Who cries for help. Ears are open to the powerful promises flooding us in the Advent readings that give the constant assurance of a God passionately in love and devoted to His people.