Advent Reflection: Keeping Watch at the Cross

Cross

Let us give thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:12-20 NRSV.  “Let us give thanks” comes form The Liturgy of the Hours).

Why is the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons so much easier than Lent, Holy Week and even Easter?  I think it has something to do with the fact that we do not think as much about the Cross during Advent and Christmas as we do during Lent.  Nevertheless, the Cross is quite inseparable from any part of the Church Year.  The Christmas tree that is often thought to be so pagan; is actually symbolic of the wood of the Cross.  The evergreen leaves are a reminder of the promise of everlasting life because of Christ’s death on the Cross.  The wood of the manger in the Nativity narrative is also symbolic of the Cross.

The words of the canticle from Colossians remind us that Christ came as God among us. Christ was the visible image of God, and that in Christ all the fullness of God’s divinity was pleased to dwell.  This Season of Advent is about remembering that Christ came to us as one like us in the Word made Flesh.  Christ made peace by the way of forgiveness of our sins through the shedding of His blood on the Cross.  This is our reason for watching during Advent, because the Christ we are awaiting is our Savior.  He is the One who brings all of us into a deeper relationship with God because in Christ, God has identified with all of us; to the point of giving His life on the Cross.

Advent is made for the Christian to contemplate the mystery of God coming among us, and returning to us to claim God’s people who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  Advent is our opportunity to respond to God in prayer and silence through the watching and waiting for all that God has for us to become a living reality.  We need not wait for God to come to respond to Christ and the Cross.  Christ is already here among us, as the Kingdom is already, but not yet.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

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