Reflections on Advent

For unto us a child is born.

Unto us a son is given. (Isaiah 9:6)

The word comes from latin and means “arrival”. Christians take time to celebrate the coming of the Christ into the carnal as Jesus. Born of heaven, and born of a woman. A young woman saying yes, to the invitation to receive the Christ into her life and into her womb. During advent, we all get to become Mary, responding to the invitation to dwell on the mystery that God is growing inside of us & arriving in us.

Advent is the arrival of newness. For me this year, advent has taken on a new meaning. I can’t say that advent this year has found me in a more reverent place than the last & I think this new experience has largely gone unnoticed by myself. It has come in a quiet way, a little bit like the incarnation is supposed to come. Hidden in a small corner of the empire. Hidden in plain sight.

During advent I am reminded of the journeys made by individuals that the nativity story portrays.

Mary’s journey was arduous; both the traveling & her pregnancy. She knew that there would be pain before the Christ could come into the world. She knew it in her body, as all women do, that pain precedes new life. Following Mary’s example, I am invited to reflect on my own pain and what is giving birth in me through it.

The Magi from the east had their own journey. It started as an intellectual search that resulted in a physical pilgrimage. In their journey I am reminded that moving my body in physical space & time can be an act of reverence towards the mystery of the incarnation. Increasingly, I am recognising that simply attending mass can be an experience & worship of the incarnation. Being present to the presence of God in the consecrated bread and wine is an act of reverence. Sure, it may be boring on a surface level sometimes, but being entertained is not the point. Something subconscious is happening in me with or without my knowledge. When I am not feeling the fullness of the value of mass I remember that just as the Magi moved themselves towards the incarnate Christ, so can I move myself toward the incarnation in the bread & wine. I am also reminded that I should not try to keep God in my head but should allow God to permeate my body as well.

Also, just as the Magi gave gifts to the Christ, the giving of myself & of my gifts to the world, which is the Universal Christ, can be an act of reverence towards the incarnation. Anything done in reverence and respect for the incarnation is a gift to God.

I suppose Joseph also had a journey to make; it was probably an internal one at many points, burdened with anxiety, worry & the stress of struggling to provide for his young family in their time of need. I wonder if he also stopped to wonder what all of this was giving birth to. In my anxieties, worries & inner dilemmas, how am I also being invited to trust?

In this season, we are all on our own journey toward the infant Christ, one way or another. May we respect the inner journey in one another.

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