By Fr. Joseph Nguyen
We are now in the second week of Advent. As you all know the Advent and Christmas seasons are a time of family gathering celebrations. This year marks the 11th time I am celebrating this season outside of my own country of Vietnam and without my family members.
The reason I would like to include the spirit of Christmas in this reflection on the Advent season is because as Christians, we never celebrate either Advent or Christmas by themselves. Advent and Christmas have a beautiful theological connection. Advent is waiting and longing for the coming of Christ in the mystery of Incarnation. That is true; most of us are waiting and longing for something, so we celebrate Advent to prepare for Christmas.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, in an empty desert the prophet John proclaimed: God is here, at your side. God has come to bring about a kingdom where injustice and suffering will be no more, where tears will be wiped away, and where those who turn to God will feast at a banquet. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Advent is a time for the hanging of the green, decorating the church with evergreen wreaths, boughs, or trees that help to symbolize the new and everlasting life brought through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church awaits the coming of our Lord Jesus. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world is the “Word made flesh” and dwelling among us.
The living traditions of the Advent and Christmas seasons bring people and families together and connect us with our Christian faith. From my experience, although I am celebrating these holy seasons without my family members, still, it is the time for me to enjoy, in the family of faith, hope and love, the Church. Therefore, Advent and Christmas can be a spiritual feast for those who live these seasons spiritually.
As you are celebrating these holy seasons may they bring you, your family and friends closer to the mystery we celebrate.
(Fr. Nguyen is parochial vicar at Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton.)