Advent is intended to encourage each of us to get quiet, to sit still, to pray, and to turn the gaze of our minds towards the God who comes. This “Coming of God” is the meaning and focus of Advent. What does “coming of God” mean? It means something other than Christ coming at Christmas, as just noted. It does not mean expecting some cataclysmic “end of the world” at the so-called “Second Coming of Christ.” That belief is an apocalyptic expectation, quite divorced from reality, and not a matter of faith as trust in God. How or what God will do in the future, no one knows, and all claims to know the future are arrogant and foolish.
So what might mean the Coming of God? I can think of two main meanings, both of which are relevant for Advent. First, God comes to you, to me, if we open our minds and hearts to Him from moment to moment. God breaks in. Of course, God is ever-present, but we are not. This breaking in takes us back to Incarnation, and reminds us of the Eucharist, in which Christ comes to His people sacramentally, and really for those who open their minds up. God is ever available, ever breaking in, and so always “coming” to the poor in spirit—to those longing for God’s goodness, beauty, truth, salvation. Second, the expectation of the Coming of God should remind us of our ignorance, and that God may come any moment, as He wills. It is His creation, and we are His. In Advent, the Church moves us to long for God, to hope in God, to wait for God, even though we do not know when or how God will come. No one knows. This attitude of humble waiting is vastly different from fundamentalists babbling about “the Second Coming,” as if they know what they are talking about. They will quote Scripture, but on what basis does one maintain that the Apostles and evangelists were right in their understanding of future events? No one knows what God will do ultimately, and what form his “Coming” may take. That is why one must exercise trust, hope, love for God and neighbor.
LORD God Almighty, help us to wait for You with longing, love, humility. Help us to know that we do not know, that we surely do not have You figured out. Free us from our religious and secular illusions, that fill our minds with wild speculations, and not with empty stillness. You come to the little ones who know their need for God. Make us aware of how spiritually and humanly needy we really are, that we may turn off the TV, keep quiet, sit still, and gaze towards You in loving silence. Let this be our Advent, our season of longing for You.