Advent is a season that looks back and looks forward at the same time. We look back to the birth of Jesus in simplicity over 2000 years ago. We also look forward with hope to welcoming Jesus again at the end of time when he comes in tenderness and love to meet us face to face.

Advent is a season of waiting, of patience and of attentiveness. We wait in a spirit of calm and patience with our eyes wide open in gentle attentiveness for the gifts that Jesus has prepared for us to unfold.

A Christmas song tells children to ‘watch out’. In the Gospel of Mark (13:37) on the first Sunday of Advent Jesus challenges us to ‘stay awake’. These two phraseshave something in common – being alert and attentive.

In Advent when we make time for quiet prayer we begin to notice anew the presence of Jesus in so many different ways. We appreciate the gifts that we have been given especially those with whom we live and work.

Quiet thoughtfulness will make us more aware of the needs of others. In the silence of Advent we will be inspired to reach out like Jesus to those who find it hard to survive, those who are left out by others and those in need of healing words and touch.

In the stillness of Advent we learn to be active in proclaiming the kingdom of God and in spreading the good news of the Gospel. We are mindful too of the words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi – ‘Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary also with words.’

Stay awake – you might miss something!

‘Attentiveness is the purest and rarest form of generosity’ (Simone Veil)