The first Sunday I have proposed ‘watch and pray’ as the theme for the week. This week, I would like to propose the theme, ‘preparation with joyful hope’.
Life is filled with inner and outer movements. There are plenty of movements to be observed and our inner movements can be observed only by us. In these movements, there is the question of discernment, choice and finally engagement, both positive and negative. Thus we observe that there is fighting, to take up or not, to accept or to deny, to engage or to ignore, etc. For Christians, these movements must be animated by the Holy Spirit and our struggles are always a spiritual struggle. These movements and fights we name them as a step that helps us to prepare ourselves to welcome Christ in the infant Jesus. How can we check ourselves, if we prepare well, especially for the final arrival of the Lord? It is very simple. If we become aware of these inner movements and connect them to external movements, if we manage to listen to them and recognize their origins, I would say that we are taking the first step towards a preparation that can be justly judged as good.
Preparation is a sign of hope, and at this time of Advent it is a joyful hope. The reason and source of our preparation is in the first reading of the day, "Say to the cities of Judah, 'Here is your God! This is the Lord God! He comes with power "Our preparation is directed towards this God who is coming. This reading presents us with a shepherd's image, The Eternal Shepherd who will come to take care of his lost sheep. This divine engagement for the salvation of the humanity gives us the hope to Esperance and the joy of waiting. So, do not reduce or limit our preparation to Christmas, because it is a memory and will take us back to 2000 years. We are walking towards the heavenly Jerusalem, towards the house of God, towards this Shepherd who seeks his sheep.
While staying on the earth, we are fixing our orientation at this paradise God has promised us. Our dream is those of the psalmist. Love and truth meet, justice and peace embrace each other; truth will sprout from the earth and from heaven will look righteousness. For that, we commit ourselves together, as a faithful and fervent community, as we are, wherever may be the place we are situated or whatever may be our states of life. We pray and believe in the hope that the Lord will fulfil all that He has promised. As he was faithful to the promise made to our father Abraham, He will be faithful with us too, the poor sinners, that we are.
St. Paul and today St. Peter tells us that this promise will come into this world like a thief, without warning us. Yet for us, the children of the light, we must not worry, for God will reveal everything to us. To welcome this revelation and the Messenger in a dignified way, we must prepare ourselves, prepare ourselves for His arrival. This preparation begins with the conversion.
John the Baptist proposed a baptism of conversion, a conversion of unbelief from Thomas (I would not believe) to the obedience of Mary (here is the servant of the Lord). It is in this opening of the mind that we can convert. Every conversion is with hope and happens in joy of new life. To convert, one must listen to this message of John the Baptist, "Here comes the one who is stronger than me: I am not worthy to lower myself to undo the strap of sandals. I have baptized you with water: he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit. Without passing this baptism of personal and individual conversion, from time to time, a community conversion, we cannot participate in the Baptism of the Lord, the baptism of fire and in the Spirit.
Advent is a moment of interiorization, it is a moment of conversion. It is a time that invites us to progress in love and forgiveness. May this love make us progress more and more in the true knowledge and the perfect clairvoyance that will make us discern what is more important in everyday life. Amen.