From the earliest of times, the Israelite community looked toward the arrival of the promised Messiah. The prayer for the speedy arrival of the Lord was often uttered in two Aramean words, Maran’athah. As time passed, the word continues to be used in song and verse with the meaning, “Come Lord Jesus”.
On November 29, we begin the four-week Advent journey toward the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Yet this year the holy season of preparation and waiting seems dwarfed by the crippling effects of the pandemic. Everything that is normative for the Christmas season seems at risk from Christmas parties to visits to Santa. Advent liturgies, Masses, singing, prayer groups and more are all changed to virtual or canceled.
Through the ages, the longing for the Messiah-King was prompted by persecution and suffering. People looked for one to save, to deliver, to protect and care for them. The greater the suffering, the more intense the longing and hope. So what about us in this Advent, 2020? Without question our community, nation and world are overwhelmed by this pandemic causing deep suffering among all people, especially the most vulnerable. The prayer, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus, has never been more timely and needed.
What do you suppose it will look like as The Lord answers that prayer? I do
not think it means you will find yourself humming Jingle Bells throughout the day or stringing extra sets of Christmas lights around your home or neighborhood.
Opening our minds and hearts to the Christ Child, the unfathomable mystery of God becoming human and choosing the most humble of circumstances for His birth. pulls us into the essence of the God Who is Love. Focusing on this truth and mystery not only opens us to receiving the Love of the Child Jesus but also impels us to imitate that love in our lives with one another.
Praying Maranatha is the first step toward an encounter with our Savior, our King and Redeemer. “Going” to Bethlehem and later to Nazareth and throughout Galilee toward Jerusalem will offer each of us everything we need to live fruitfully through this pandemic and beyond.
For me, Maranatha is not a one-time prayer offered as Advent begins. It is a
mantra, a simple and profound invitation to the Lord Jesus to accompany me in my days. Join me as together we humbly pray through the crises of these times the prayer that gives birth to Hope. Maranatha.
First Sunday of Advent
November 28/29, 2020
The season of Advent is upon us, and in today’s Gospel Jesus delivers a simple message through the pen of Saint Mark: “Be watchful! Be alert!” Christian stewards understand what Jesus meant when he said,
“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task.”
Good stewards realize that to each one a task is assigned by God. They have been set in a particular place and station in life, and have been gifted with unique relationships.
How do we respond to the tasks or cultivate our relationships in a way that keeps us alert for the return of Christ?