Advent is a time of preparation for receiving Jesus into the world and into our hearts. My first Advent challenge to you is to sit down, ponder and meditate on the scriptural account of Jesus’ arrival in the world as your time allows. There are many wonderful resources for Scripture study, but for anyone seeking a structured approach I’ve attempted to compile a few thoughts and questions of my own that will hopefully be of some service.
Read Isaiah 8:23 – 9:6.
In what respect could you describe the world as a “people in darkness and gloom”?
This “great light” signifies the satisfaction of a great need among the people and a great source of joy. Consider what needs have been met by God in your life and what joy He has brought to you.
The child mentioned, of course, refers to Jesus. Based on the context, what sort of kingdom does He establish by assuming a human nature?
Read John 1:1-5.
What purpose do words serve for us?
What sort of purpose would God serve by using His second Person as a Word?
What light is referred to here, and in what respect does it shine in the darkness?
Read John 1:10-11.
Why would the Creator of the world not be known by His own world? See John 3:19.
Read John 1:14.
What resulted from the Word making His dwelling among us?
Read Luke 1:26-38.
What description of her Son does the angel foretell to Mary?
How will this Son be conceived?
Mary’s response gained her the queenship of heaven and the title of heavenly advocate. What was this response and how might we emulate it?
Read Luke 2:1-7.
Here is the Lord of the Universe in the form of a little baby. If you haven’t seen it yet, my colleague Lauren produced a thoughtful meditation on the wonder of this event.
Read Matthew 2:1-12.
What do the magi know about the child Jesus before they even see him?
What is their response upon first seeing Him?
The gift of gold is wealth for a king. The gift of frankincense is an aromatic offering to a deity. The gift of myrrh is an enbalming agent for the end of a mortal life. In what respects are these fitting gifts for Jesus?
Simeon’s Blessing and Prophecy
Read Luke 2:25-35.
According to the context, how did Simeon know the significance of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple? How long might he have waited for this moment?
What praise does Simeon offer to God for this event?
What prophecy does he offer to Mary and Joseph about their Son? In what ways is this prophecy fulfilled within Jesus’ life, and the centuries to come?
The First and Second Comings
Jesus was widely misunderstood by the Jews. They understood their Savior as one who was to restore the earthly power and prestige of Israel to that of the age of the great kings David and Solomon. What God bestowed instead was a suffering servant who died for their sins and those of all humanity.
Read Luke 23:27-31.
These women offer a sympathetic, natural response to a terrible display of suffering. Jesus upends this response by emphasizing the ties of His suffering to the gravity of our sins and the consequences of our ever-possible rejection.
You may have noticed the emphasis in Mass readings over the last few weeks on the end times. We celebrate Advent in part to remember the anticipation of Christ’s coming in the flesh, and also in part to anticipate His coming in power and glory. Indeed, the Church tells us that our lives should be centered on preparing and being always ready for the moment we meet our Maker.
Read Revelation 21:5-8.
This is Jesus as we will see Him at the end. Consider how you would confront Him, and offer him your thoughts and feelings in prayer, asking for His grace.
My second Advent challenge: have a very blessed Advent and a merry Christmas!