Advent, as presented in the liturgical calendar, is a way of re-introducing Christ’s presence into our lives. It is a period of re-opening our eyes of faith to the reality of God’s becoming present in our humanity through Christ. It is an opportunity for us to re-examine the various ways of God’s presence in our midst, brought about by the Mystery of the Incarnation whose fullness was realized when Christ was born in time and in flesh.
Christ is present in the Sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist which He has commanded us to celebrate to perpetuate His presence. Christ is duly present in the papacy and the priesthood. Christ is present in Scripture, defined as the word of God in words of men. In the ministry of preaching, we have to understand the difficult meaning of the prophetic office of the Church where the preacher’s words, however inadequate, are used by Christ to convey His message. He is in our midst every time we pray together in His name. Christ’s presence in each of us, created in His image and likeness, is a level of divine presence we have to appreciate more and more. To see the face of Christ in the poor and the destitute is for us more theoretical than real. Christ is present in the flashes of insight that open our eyes to see and recognize our wounded humanity which He has redeemed. The levels of Christ’s presence are too varied and too numerous to be missed, if only we have an open mind and heart.
Advent is the liturgical time to renew our faith in these different levels of Christ’s presence. It is about re-discovering Christ’s presence in our life
As Church, we are a people of presence. We commit to a ministry of presence, to make Christ transparent in our lives, to be Christ’s hands and feet in this earthly pilgrimage. Christian life is about presence, about being generous with our time with one another.
During this season of giving, let us give gifts of personal presence., like promising to visit a sick or dying friend or committing to volunteer to help with community work. The best things we can give as gifts are not things. This season is about self-giving, following the example of Christian who gave up his divinity to share in our humanity, rooted in the first Christmas, when Christ decided to be present in our midst through His becoming flesh and living among us.