Advent, again! You might cry out.

Dear Parishioners and Visitors,

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Advent, again! You might cry out. We say Advent, but we are thinking Christmas. Most Catholics seem to lack the understanding of Advent as a separate Christian season; a time of the year with its own flavor and purpose. Advent is not Christmas, even if the business world tries to force us into a consumerism spree during this time.

What is Advent about? Advent is a time for waiting.  Like a pregnant woman waiting for the child to grow and develop in her womb, knowing that the process cannot be accelerated; Advent invites us to wait, but with purpose.

Usually we dislike waiting. It reminds us of waiting at the doctor's office, impatiently looking at our watches and counting the seconds. Advent is not that kind of stressful waiting. It is a time of relaxed waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom of God to become part of our human history.

Advent is a time to make a stop amid the rush of our lives and reconsider where we stand and where we are going. In Advent we are reminded of the sure fact that this world will come to an end and that Jesus will return to judge the world. But it is not a time of fear and trepidation. It is a time of relaxed contemplation of our own selves and to dwell in the all-encompassing commandment of love. Love is the ultimate measure of Christian life. Love is the all-encompassing commandment given to us.

Saint Paul in this Sunday's reading gives us an insight into what type of love we are invited to rediscover in this Advent season. "May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all." In this season of waiting we are encouraged to work on our love. Like pregnant mothers awaiting the delivery of the life within them, we are to spend time during this short liturgical season nurturing the love that already exists in our hearts, helping it grow and mature. So that when the Lord comes, we might be able to present him with the best of our gifts: a life overflowing in love of others and ourselves.

-fr. Alberto Rodriguez, O.P.