Advent at a minimum is a gentle liturgical reminder, a “Wake up” call that it’s 4 weeks of really bad Christmas music ahead, crowded stores and more pressure in our busy lives. Alternatively it is a time of preparation for a renewed welcome to the real meaning of Christmas. It has religious significance.
Cliche-ridden homilies will let parishioners know that we are getting ready to once again welcome Jesus into our lives.
My impertinent question always is, “Which Jesus is that?”
Angry bloggers are busy harrumphing that they are tired of being politically correct and substituting the bland “Happy holidays” for the age-old Merry Christmas. They insist that secular society has gone too far and like the Grinch has taken away their Christmas and I presume their Christ, he of the Hallmark card, the manger babe who remains eternally in his crib and never grows up to chase the money changers out of the New York stock Exchange.
Is this really the Jesus we are waiting for?
The Christmas stories of course are profoundly political tropes, powerfully crafted mini-stories which insist that this baby was welcomed first of all not by the power brokers, religious leaders of first century Palestine but by the shepherds, the absolutely poor riff raff scorned because they could not fulfill the Law on their midnight shifts. Luke insists he will grow up to be the Lord of nobodies. All through his life there will be no room for him in the inn. Bear in mind Luke is writing 90 years after his birth. He well knows how this cherubic baby not only will be shoved to the margins but he will end up ignominiously clothed in swaddling clothes once more—this time on a Roman cross. This gospel device is called inclusio—the bare loincloth adorns his vulnerable body—at birth and in death.
That’s the Jesus we get ready for.