Cardinal Blase J. Cupich

Advent: The season to encounter Christ, the Coming One

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

One of the most ancient titles of Jesus in the liturgical tradition of the church is He Who Is to Come. It captures the essence of the Resurrection, rightly portraying Jesus not only as someone raised from the dead 2,000 years ago, but as someone who is in our midst, active and bringing about something new in the world.

Our response in faith to this reality, we are told in the Scripture texts proclaimed in Advent, is to be watchful and attentive to the many ways Christ reveals his presence and action in the world.

It is true that the readings in these first days of Advent associate the coming of Christ with the end times. We hear predictions about the darkening of the sun and moon, earthquakes and how turmoil will spread fear and anxiety among the people, terrorized that the world is coming to an end.

Yet, the believer is urged to remain calm, at peace and undisturbed. Christ is not coming to destroy but to restore and redeem, heal and make whole. The disciples of Jesus are to stand tall, and remain alert to all that he is accomplishing.

So, in this season we are to turn our eyes to those places where healing is taking place and be willing to join in that work, for that is where Christ, He Who Is to Come, is present and active.

Two significant moments have helped me anticipate Advent, and the task of being attentive to the healing work of Christ coming in a new way into the world. The first was the funeral of Officer Samuel Jimenez.

Our city wrapped our collective arms around his dear wife, Crystal, and her children. As leaders, colleagues and citizens joined together and tried as best they could to console the inconsolable pain of the Jimenez family, the tensions and difficulties that too often divide our city seemed to evaporate.

It was clear to me that all of us, in sharing this common task of healing and comfort, were doing the work of Christ; he had come in our midst in a new way to reveal just for a moment our potential to work together and to remind us that we should always be there for one another.

A second event came on Dec. 1, at the Mass to mark the 60th anniversary of the fire at Our Lady of the Angels School. Six decades have passed since that terrible winter afternoon, near the close of the school day, when fire and smoke swept through Our Lady of Angels School killing 92 children and three Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yet, hearts were still touched by sorrow, especially the hearts of surviving students and family members of those that perished, some of whom attended the Mass.

 As I was processing out of that Mass, a 95-year-old mother of one of the students, an Italian immigrant, approached me and gave me one of best gifts I have ever received. It was the holy card or “santino,” as she called it, printed 60 years ago for her daughter’s funeral.

The photo of this dear fifth-grader was featured on the back. Her mother had kept this card for all these years, but she wanted me to have it to express the consolation she felt by the community coming together to remember her precious child.

These are the kinds of moments we are called to watch for in this season of Advent. We are to be attentive to the graces that come in such ordinary experiences, so that we will be prompted to eagerly join in the work of healing that Christ is bringing in the world.

So let us be attentive and watchful, but also eager, as the prayer for the first Sunday of Advent urges, to run with vigor to meet Christ with righteous deeds. Visiting prisoners, welcoming the stranger, sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick — these will be how we will meet Christ in this season. There are so many avenues to choose from, but we can be certain that before we arrive there, Christ, He Who Is to Come, is already on his way.


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