Advent has arrived. Advent, from Latin adventus, “coming,” stands for the end of the calendar year in various parts of the world and at the same time for the beginning of the new Western Christian liturgical year. Advent means for many people the period of vigilance and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Jesus came into this world about 2000 years ago in Bethlehem where he was laid safely in a manger, as there was no place for him and his parents in the inn. He, the son of God, did not come as a king or conqueror, but as an innocent, little, vulnerable baby. Jesus Christ, the Word of God, became flesh and dwelt among us. Through his incarnation, he continuously brings light, love, hope and peace into our world. We not only receive this light, love, hope and peace, but also but give and share it, as our world so urgently needs it! The Gospel of the first Sunday in Advent, 2019 reminds us: “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). This verse refers clearly to an encounter with Jesus. As Pope Francis stated during an Angelus in December 2015: “So, we do not await a time or a place, but we are going to encounter a person: Jesus. Neither is it about knowing ‘how‘ these things will happen, but instead ‘how‘ we have to act today, in awaiting these things.“ Therefore, we should be vigliant and prepared for this imminent encounter at any given moment, which means, treating others – especially the young and vulnerable – with love, respect, and dignity, to protect them, and to put them in the center of our attention. Moreover we should not hesitate to offer a helping hand – to be a light in the dark and a friend in loneliness to those who are marginalized, wounded, or abbondaned in this world! Therefore, advent reminds us to see Jesus in every person. Advent reminds us that we are not alone with all our work and efforts, in protecting the most vulnerable, and advent reminds us, that a light can always be found in the darkness!
Hans Zollner SJ shares about his recent visit to Latin American countries Reactions to Disclosing Abuse Following the BBC’s Documentary “Sex for Grades”