Advent is a time when we need to reflect on ourselves, and our society if the birth of Christ is to have its full impact on us. The church has as its centre the Paschal Mystery, and this is what we share in throughout our lives as Christians. We are constantly reminded during Advent that God is our beginning and our end.

During the advent season we prepare to remember Christ’s first coming among us, while also pondering and preparing for Christ’s second coming at the end of time. This is reflected in the readings at our liturgies. From the first Sunday of Advent to the 16th December, we concentrate on the second coming of Christ, while the remainder of Advent, we are preparing for the Birth of Jesus. This is what the church is celebrating and it is important that we remember this. It is to this joy and anxiety that ‘God’s poor one’s’ are awaiting fulfilment. We wait in ourselves and in our community for the day when God’s kingdom will manifest itself in our world.

Constantly during the Advent season we are reminded of Mary’s role in the birth process of Christ. We can only imagine what her feelings were, hope, fear, surprise, discomfort, unease and joy. Much of these feelings exist in our society and our lives and we should turn to her in prayer.

In the Magnificat, which Mary said when she visited Elizabeth, to tell her of the great honour which had been bestowed on her, we are reminded of God’s power. It is one of the greatest prayers we have. It is our Prayer, our prayer of Justice. We are reminded in it that ‘God’s arm is power and strength, it scatters the proud of heart, it cast the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly ones.’ Maybe during this season of Advent we could be more just to one another, to welcome Jesus in the homeless, the hungry and the poor. After all Jesus ‘wept with the broken, starved with the hungry, and dies in the ones who die forgotten’ (Agapé, Marty Haugen).

Through our Advent we should make the stranger a welcome guest, and come to know the one who brings us life in the celebration of the word and in the breaking of the bread.