The central message of this season is Emmanuel--"God with us." That presence of God is at the very heart of the Christmas celebration.
Not everyone automatically feels happy or carefree in this season. People of faith can be signs of Christ present to those searching for God.
We need to welcome God's grace and power present in Jesus Christ in order to become part of God's dream for the world.
The Scripture readings for this first Sunday in Advent urge us to wake up to what is happening here and now. This is the hour of salvation.
The voice of our crucified King, inviting us to Paradise along with the repentant thief, cuts through all that is shallow and cannot truly satisfy.
Jesus wanted his followers to draw strength from his continuing presence with them--a presence that would be assured in the Church through the gift of his Holy Spirit.
As Christians the new life Jesus gives us is the ultimate answer to all our questions. We need only make our act of faith in the one who died and rose for us.
God is at work in the most unlikely of ways and in people we may least expect to change. Repentance like that was and is the mission of Jesus.
Today's parable helps us to see that our prayers must first begin with a change of heart, an acknowledgement of our sinfulness, and an openness to God.
We may seem powerless before all that is unjust in our world. But Jesus' parable in today's Gospel encourages us to keep praying and working for peace and justice.