Emmanuel - God is with Us
The shops may have gotten in before us, but Advent is now upon us!
Advent is a preparation season - sort of like the pre-season in AFL. AFL players need to be physically and mentally strong for the real season ahead. Advent is the pre-season for getting ready for Christmas. We don’t assume that we are spiritually ready for the coming of Jesus. And that’s a big deal. When we say, “the coming of Jesus”, we are really talking about the meaning behind the name ‘Emmanuel’. Emmanuel is a Hebrew word that means ‘God is with us’ and this is what Jesus brings to the table. God has gifted his son to be with us, fully human and fully divine.
As mentioned at the start, the shops ‘jump the gun’ a bit and get off to a very premature start with Christmas. It’s ridiculously early now – Christmas carols can be heard on the loudspeakers, and shops are decked out with Christmas trees and decorations way too soon. But all of this has a commercial purpose, and has very little to do with the real Christmas of course. It really does take some effort to stop, breathe and take stock of what is happening during the time of Advent, before Christmas day takes us by surprise.
When the gospel writers sat down and wrote their inspirations, they wrote for certain audiences. This is why we have ‘same but different’ pieces of writing. They knew that they needed to recontextualise their stories with certain emphases and sensitivities. We know for instance that Jesus was referred to as a King but for a very different sort of Kingdom that the people of the time were hoping for. Many thought that the Messiah was going to come and conquer the Romans. The gospels illustrate that Jesus was not that sort of King and he had a very different Kingdom in mind. And for those people who were wishing for a conqueror, this was a big distraction, blinding them from the real Jesus. Hence the need for recontextualization.
Focusing heavily on buying up on Christmas presents, organising get-togethers, and making food lists for the ‘big day’ can be really big distractions for us today, blinding us from the real Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with these things occurring of course. Christmas is a great opportunity for family and friends to gather. But the danger lies in taking all of the focus off the reason for season. We need to recontextualise the Christmas message to make meaning for us today. The underlying meanings are timeless.
When there is no room for Jesus, it really does leave the point of Christmas out in the cold. Our pre-season can involve taking some time to remember what Jesus taught us. His message for us, over and over again, is that God loves us and has a plan for us and this can bring us joy. True Christmas joy!
Congratulations to the First Communion candidates who celebrated last weekend. It has been such a long wait for these students. I’d also like to thank the teachers who supported these students over the course of these Masses. We now pray for these young people as they continue to grow in their faith.
Diocesan Synod of Bishops
INVITE, ENGAGE, CONVERSE, RESPOND
From now until the end of February 2022, the church worldwide is engaged in the Diocesan Phase of the synodal journey in which we actively seek to hear from and converse with diverse groups of people in our communities: our parish and school networks, agencies, with those who may have left the church, with those on the fringes of society, and also seeking the wisdom of Christian sisters and brothers.
Please visit our new Synod of Bishops Page and get involved!
A free Internet based channel that offers Catholic faith-based movies, documentaries and series. Check it out for some very wholesome and inspiring material.
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