From last Sunday, for many of us on the journey of life, we first encounter God through Hope. And Hope transmitting into Faith comes from the continuing, gentle revelation of our God on our personal journey of life, where different little details are unique to each person. Advent is for this preparation: for us to more and more live and experience encounters with God as we journey unceasingly towards the end of life.
We light the second candle in the Advent wreath, a Christian tradition, symbolizing the gift of Faith. This gift is for us to nurture, with happenings in our life germinating it. As we go along the path of life, enough will happen for us to eventually gain the conviction to have faith.
Faith begins with intellectual knowledge. For most, that is not enough to mature faith to find conviction. Christmas is the Word made flesh; our belief through intellectual knowledge must metamorphose into a living experience.
Faith begins with a declaration of belief. But this belief must metamorphose, it must come alive! Faith comes alive when we encounter this “Emmanuel – God with us” in the happenings of our personal life. Only then can we acquire wisdom that our God is a ‘personal God’ and there exists a personal relationship between God and each person.
Faith, like Hope, desires to accompany us on our journey in life. Hope and Faith is our God reaching out to us on the path of life. Often, we cannot see him, not even realizing his presence. Hence this Sunday’s call “to prepare a way for our Lord, make the paths straight for him”. It is a call to nurture our faith, to grow it into the spiritual dimension where we readily encounter our Lord in daily activities, so that our belief will become for us a living experience. And our eyes are opened to see our God literally in our midst.
Advent is the preparation to welcome Jesus into the world. Advent is the awareness that Christmas will lead us to the gift of the Risen Christ who walks with us faithfully through every episode of our earthly journey. Every one of us would have had encounters with the Lord especially in significant life events, more often than we think. It is just that many times, we never realized that it was the Lord who passed by. But it is not too late.
Advent is this welcoming of Faith into our hearts. Our journey of life is often pockmarked and marked by milestones where events in life significantly changed our paths. We can turn our backs and label them as “blessings in disguise” or we can go back to these milestones and retrace our personal history. What happened? How? Who did we meet along the way that has brought us to our present, our here and now? Did we not meet Hope?
We can see events that conspired as coincidences, strangers who entered our life for a specific purpose then disappeared, family and friends who lifted us in times of trouble, unfortunate events that in time along the path of life brought us to a better place. We can uncover so much if we spend time retracing our personal life story. In so doing, we can uncover the presence of God in our midst, the reason for Christmas in our personal life.
Only then can faith become a living experience. And only with Faith will our journey of life become easier. Make our paths straight.
2nd Sunday of Advent 2022