Looking Back to Look Forward in Advent

When my kids had been youthful, we’d go on lengthy highway journeys through the winter vacation from faculty to go to our households. We’d eagerly pack up our baggage, be sure that there have been loads of snacks for the little ones, and get onto the highway. Our kids, like so many, would ask, “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?” Children are impatient, as a result of it’s onerous to anticipate the unseen. As adults we had a bit extra persistence. My husband and I might even be keen to see household and to arrive at our childhood houses, and since we had been used to the lengthy journey ending with the reward of family members, we felt extra anticipation than impatience. Road journeys are stuffed with anticipation and hope for what lies forward.

The phrase Advent comes from the Latin adventus, or arrival. Advent is a season of preparation for Christmas once we keep in mind the delivery of Jesus and the Incarnation. It’s additionally a time of preparation for the second coming of Christ in the long run. When we await one thing or somebody, we’re in an “in between” place. We are “not there yet.” St. Ignatius thought-about life to be “on the way,” a picture of life as a pilgrimage. Ignatius was bodily a pilgrim for a time, touring by way of Spain to Jerusalem and later Rome, however even when this era ended, he understood that we’re nonetheless at all times on the way in which in our life’s journey—spiritually, ethically, and as a group searching for justice in the world. Our world has not arrived at good peace and justice. We as people and communities are nonetheless en route to residing in the world that displays the Reign of God.

Sometimes we adults can also surprise, “Are we there yet?” We learn the information, and we will be like kids who impatiently surprise, When will we ever get there? Can we actually consider in a world the place peace and love reign? But to hope for such a world is to anticipate that there actually is one thing good on the finish of the journey. For us as Christians, it’s Jesus himself who’s the present. God turned incarnate as an individual, to be with us, in the previous. God stays current in the world round us and current to us in prayer and contemplation. And God is in the long run; we consider that God will fulfill God’s promise of affection and justice and are available once more.


Anticipation works in a humorous approach: to have the option to look ahead with hope, we even have to look backwards in time by way of reminiscence. Here’s what I imply: kids look ahead to unwrapping items underneath the tree as a result of they’ve completely happy reminiscences of previous years after they unwrapped one thing good, like a much-anticipated toy. When I used to be 5 – 6 years outdated, my dad and mom introduced out a final present after all of the others had been unwrapped: an enormous, smooth, plush canine about three ft lengthy, that I named Cuddles. Cuddles sat on my mattress for a very long time, and even after I was an adolescent, had a particular spot in my room. Probably no different materials present topped Cuddles, however the reminiscence knowledgeable how I thought of Christmas morning as a baby. It was a time stuffed with familial love and good surprises.

As Christians, we additionally look ahead to the way forward for love and peace by trying again to the delivery of Jesus. We look ahead to Christ’s coming once more by trying to Jesus’s arrival amongst us way back. It is belief in God’s items to us in the previous that permits us to belief and to hope in a future the place God brings peace and love into our world.

Remembering Where God Has Been So That We Can Anticipate Where God Will Be

Reading and imaginatively praying with Scripture is a method to keep in mind Jesus’s coming into the world in the previous, in order that we are able to hope and belief that God might be with us wherever we’d like God to be in the long run. For instance, we are able to think about the Annunciation and think about what it means to belief in God proper now, the way in which that Mary trusted and gave of herself generously. Mary had an encounter with the angel that allowed her to have hope and to anticipate one thing good, regardless that Mary additionally had no concept precisely how that story would unfold. Still, she trusted and anticipated, pondering in her coronary heart.

A present of imaginative prayer is that it helps us to see the connections between the place God has been in the previous and the place God might be in the long run. We anticipate, we hope, and we attempt to make a present of ourselves to God and to others—for they’re additionally “on the way” together with us.

Image by S. Moonthep from Pixabay.

Join Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ, for an Advent webinar on December 1, 2022.
Letting Go This Advent: A Webinar with Fr. Michael Rossmann, SJ (pictured)

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