Advent’s invitation to reconnect

I believe it was in the second semester of my sophomore year at Notre Dame in an introductory biology class that I was first introduced to the Theory of Evolution. Until then I had pretty much assumed that things are what they are and life is what is. It was only in recent years, however, that I became more deeply interested in works on evolution and theology by authors Father John Haught, S.J., professor of theology at Georgetown University and Sister Elizabeth Johnson, professor of theology at Fordham University.

One thought, among many others that interested me, was their proposition that all matter in the universe, from planets to humans, is intricately bound together and has been so since that moment in infinity when God set all existence into being. In short, all things in the universe are intricately joined. We bear within us molecules of stardust.

Having made that short and superficial exploration into science and theology, it occurred to me one day in November that the Christian season of Advent is once more beckoning us to enter afresh into the life of the church year. Christians are well aware, of course that this season links the year just past to a new one just beginning — still unexplored and not yet savored. What links these two segments of time together, of course, is Jesus Christ. He is the one whom we await and whom we hope for and also the one who gives meaning to life.

In some sense we are assured during this holy season that Jesus Christ is not only coming again but that he has in some sense been with us and will eternally be with us. In other words, there is a certain unbroken unity in the Christian life.

Contrary then to the notion that this four-week season of Advent simply provides for us a preparation time for the celebration of the birth of Christ, Christians believe that this season stands as a paradigm for all periods of time that are provided for us by God to gradually bring to fulfillment Christ’s invitation to enrich the very kingdom he came to preach and ultimately die for.

There is something to be said, therefore, for the notion that there are no breaks in living the Christian life. In fact during the time of Advent, Christians are not invited to begin the Christian life all over again but rather to reexamine the times and experiences in which our life has been immersed in Christ thus far. And we are invited to determine whether there is yet the possibility of connecting to the unknown future in such a way that Christ will become for us all in all. Let it be said, therefore, that there is always the God-gifted opportunity for us, time-bound people that we are, to look both backward and forward at the same time to discover where Christ continues to meet us on the way to eternity.

Scriptures for Dec. 7

Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11

2 Peter 3: 8-14

Mark 1: 1-8

The writer formerly served the Anchorage Archdiocese as director of pastoral education. He now lives in Notre Dame, Indiana.

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