We are now entering Advent, the four Sundays of preparation before we celebrate the birth of Our Savior. For most of us, December is a busy month of shopping, cooking and baking, entertaining, traveling, and savoring time with our families.
I ask to you to take a moment in the midst of it all to ponder what “advent” means. The word’s origins are in the Latin word for “coming.” It means the arrival of something notable or important, such as the advent of the printing press, television or the internet. You get the idea.
In the Catholic Church, Advent points toward the arrival of the most notable and important event—the coming of Christ. It is a time of preparation, expectation and waiting, which are reflected in the liturgies and rituals.
So in the hustle and bustle of the season, slow down for a few minutes. Let your mind and your soul contemplate the expectation. Let them wait.
In our contemplation we can glimpse fleetingly the experience of people 2 millennia ago—the fear and despair of a world that God seemed to have abandoned and the hope that something was about to happen that would change everything.
Even as those who were present for the birth of Christ came to realize that nothing would ever be the same, they probably didn’t imagine what the future would bring. That the child who was born would not only bring his message of hope and redemption—of communion with God—to those he saw, touched and spoke with over the next 33 years; he would bring that message to all nations, to the entire world. It’s a message we are still hearing more than 2,000 years later. If that is not a miracle, I do not know what is.
All over the world today, people are waiting. Some are hungry. Some are thirsty. Some are oppressed. Some are hopeful. Some are near despair. They desire exactly what you do: a life of dignity and meaning; children who are healthy, educated and prepared to walk into the world with confidence; and communities that are safe and prosperous.
They wait for the advent of something notable and important in their lives. One important lesson from Catholic social teaching reflected in Catholic Relief Services’ mission is that God works through us. We who have heard the Good News must deliver it to others with a generosity and munificence that mirrors the bountiful nature of God.
Because of the advent of the printing press, of television, of the Internet, we can understand more clearly than ever that we are all children of God, so we are all members of the same family. We can see so much more clearly that just as Christ’s message did not end with those who heard it directly from him—or even beyond the Holy Land—our duty does not end at the walls of our house, the end of our block, our city’s boundaries, our state line, or even the borders of our country.
No, it is present wherever there are fellow human beings, because all of us are God’s children.
So in your moments of reflection during Advent, in this time of expectation and waiting, please think of people around the world who are waiting for the message of hope. Understand that God works through our hearts and our hands to deliver the message we will celebrate so joyously on Christmas day.
May blessings overflow,
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo
President & CEO
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