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Advent is a time of pregnant hope and anticipation.
A time of waiting, a time of expectant hope, a time of joy!
A time to remember and birth anew the love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, healing
that our savior brought into the World.

Our spiritual wombs full, our hearts expanding with love at the thought of
birthing something new!

First Sunday of Advent--A Reflection by Sister Frances Briseno, OSBAdvent this year, however, is so surreal. It is as if we entered this season of waiting last March before Easter! We have been in a long waiting mode. We have been waiting for some light to break through the darkness of the pandemic, the darkness of bitter division in our country, the darkness of racism.

Mark’s admonition in the Gospel for the first Sunday of Advent to be watchful and stay alert seems all too familiar. Isn’t that what we have been hearing from the CDC, from our loved ones, from our parishes, from our Pope? “Be watchful; be alert!  You do not know the time”. Our souls cry out for peace and harmony. We watch and wait for a different reality to be born.

I don’t know about you, but as I have tried to settle into waiting, I find myself restless. I find my soul thirsting for life giving waters, for renewed hope. I want this time of waiting to end! I want respite from the confusion and uncertainty of it all. We moved through this time of waiting with deep, deep divisions. Unrest in our streets, political aggressiveness never seen before, a pandemic that has taken 250,000 lives in our country alone, masks, not enough testing, and the list goes on. I know I am not the only one feeling this way. It seems that the world cries out to God in unison for healing and understanding. Heal our ways, O Lord! Let us be mindful of our need for you. Open our eyes to gaze on you as you gaze on us! Move us Lord from this place of fear, anxiety, anger, doubt, and division to a place of love, unity and peace.

Isaiah’s words in the first reading are so timely as we plead to be rescued from this time of waiting, from this pandemic, from the bitterness of division, from protection of ego to freedom of spirit, from darkness to light. Deliver us from such falsehood to the fullness of your light. Help us walk as children of the light. 

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we are reminded that we possess every spiritual gift needed at this time in history to walk as children of the light. The choice is ours to make. Help us, Lord, to choose life! Help us turn our hearts toward the light and to come to a place where we find kinship with all our brothers and sisters.

And through all this waiting in turmoil, we enter a new liturgical year where we can begin all over again. Advent is indeed a time of renewed hope. It is a time of anticipation and fulfillment! It is a time when the star shines brightly, and the Savior is born. The words of O Holy Night, “long lay the world in sin and error pining, till he appeared and the soul felt its worth” come to mind. I remember Fr. Greg Boyle pointing this line out to a room filled with people. My soul leaped and I felt full! How many times had I sung this song and never took note of this powerful line? It is true. What a moment of grace that was. Advent is a time that prepares us for that kind of grace, reminds us of the mystery that is God. Be watchful and alert for we know not the time when God will snatch us from the ordinary into the extraordinary. We know not the time when God moves us to a different reality. We wait for God during Advent, God appears, and we are changed.

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” Our souls feel their worth and the new begins to reveal itself.

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