Cardinal Wojtyla on the First Sunday of Advent (1974)

The newly elected Pope, John Paul II (Karol Jozef Wojtyla) of Poland, October 19, 1978. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)On the First Sunday of Advent (1974) Cardinal Wojtyla delivered a homily with an emphasis upon our awareness of time in all of its dimensions. Advent is a special season bringing together past and future, gathered into an eternal now. Past – because “Advent carries our minds back to the first human events, which also marked the starting point of the history of salvation, which led to Christ.” This season, he said, “brings us back to his hidden origins.” How can our memory recollect the entirety of this “historic-chronological period of waiting for his coming”? It is the long historic unfolding of the mystery of Christ, culminating in the birth in Bethlehem. So our faith now encounters the historical fact of his coming.  God breaks through into human history and life.

Future – because “Advent is also a time of eschatological hope.” The Gospel of that year was Luke 21:25-33: And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” The gospel he says gives rise to much reflection, “some of it deeply pessimistic and fearful of catastrophe.” So do we know the hour? We are turned to the future, “torn from the present.” We still wonder whither  the world and civilization must go, and with it, the Church, until the end shall come.
But at the deepest level of meaning of Advent, we must understand the present hour, as present with the joy of the Lord. “Advent is the present moment, not tomorrow, but today; not later but now. This makes Christianity the religion of the Lord’s coming, inasmuch as, while waiting for the Lord’s coming, we actually experience it. His coming unceasingly fills and satisfies our ‘now’.”
“Let us go with joy to meet the Lord.” The Church places this at the very beginning of the liturgical year. Let us go with joy to meet Christ.
 Cardinal Wojtyla concludes: “I would urge you to strive to know what hour it is, because this hour is also the hour of the Lord’s coming. Indeed, since God came each hour has been full of his coming. . . . I think that if we begin like this we shall be able to receive from this first moment, this first day of Advent, the sanctifying fruit of grace which are destined for each one of us and for us all as a specific community in this specific age. Let us pray for this while participating in the eucharistic liturgy.”
The mystical presence of God always shines through Saint ‘s  life and words:
His coming unceasingly fills and satisfies our ‘now’.
Each hour has been full of his coming.
Prayer first and last.
Like Pascal, in his Memorial, he could say: “Eternally in joy for a day’s exercise on the earth. May I not forget your words. Amen.”
from The Word Made Flesh: The Meaning of the Christmas Season, translated by Leslie Wearne (Harper Row, 1985)

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