“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man” Luke 21: 36 (From the readings of First Sunday of Advent, Cycle C)
“Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of Saint Francis, who often said ‘I see nothing bodily of the Most High son of God in this world except his most holy body and blood,’ should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.” (Art.5, SFO Rule)
Advent should be a time of anticipation, of preparation, of remembrance. We remember the event of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son God coming into our world as a human child. We prepare ourselves in expectation of His coming again at the end of time. But Advent is also a time to prepare for and to anticipate an encounter with Christ here and now.
Saint Francis believed that through the people he met in the streets of Assisi, through the poor and downtrodden, he encountered Christ. In listening and meditating on the Scriptures, he encountered Christ. And especially in receiving the Eucharist, he encountered Christ. We see in his writings and in stories of his life, Francis lived as one who always anticipated that in the next moment he would meet Jesus Christ. We can feel, through his words, the excited anticipation he felt.
With all that is happening with us during the mad rush to prepare for Christmas, and with all the everyday pressures and troubles we experience, it can be hard to be fully open to the same sense of anticipation that Francis had. Yet, we should all strive to keep our hearts open in joyful expectation, because we can never know when we will encounter Jesus.