Saint Paul prays for the Christian congregation in the city of Thessalonica with these words.
"Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you." [1 Thes 3:1]
As we hear him pray for an abundance of love among fellow believers it is important for us to understand the context in which his prayer is offered is one of "Advent" spirit. St. Paul prays that there might be an abundant love among them, as an expression of faith in the anticipation of the return of Christ. May you love one another, not simply because it is a nice thing to do, but love because of your faith that Christ has come and will come again because of his love for us.
The sense of “advent” was very real to even the earliest of the Christian communities. They lived their lives not assuming that the reunion with Christ was far off, but imminent. They also did not anticipate that coming in fear, but with a joyful expectation. For them and for us, that coming of Christ is something we long for; in history and in our own passing from this life.
How do we prepare for that reunion? Do we anticipate meeting the Lord and offering him all the times we fought against something or will we be able to show him all the times our actions show what we were for? Will we present to him the times and places in which we acted with love, or we only be able to offer him the occasions of our righteous anger? We he only see our lamentations of suffering or our works of mercy?
Advent is a season of anticipation which leads us to celebrating the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth. It begins, however, as a time to anticipate the ultimate and final coming of Christ. We are called therefore to spend time, during this season, reflecting on the implications of that reality. The birth of Jesus is the Father’s response to humanity and so we prepare by reflecting on the forgiveness of God, God’s compassion, and God’s love. We look forward by looking back at where we have seen God in our lives and where we long for him in our future.
I pray that as we begin this advent season that we actively anticipate the birth of Christ by reflecting, praying and loving. What is your prayer this Advent?