The universal Church begins the new liturgical year with the arrival of the season of Advent — a season with two main themes: looking backward and looking forward. The word “advent” itself means “to come” or “to arrive.” In Advent, we prepare for the Lord’s coming at the end of time, an appointed time we know not. We are admonished to be watchful and ready for that day (see, among other similar admonitions of the Lord, Mt 24: 42-44).

As a means to prepare for his Second Coming, we also look back to Christ’s coming among us the first time — born a babe in Bethlehem. In Advent, the Church recalls Christ’s identity as Redeemer and Savior as foretold by the prophets — chief among whom is St. John the Baptist. His role was to prepare the people for the first advent of the Messiah, especially through his preaching of repentance and conversion (see, for instance, Mt 3: 1-12). These are two primary themes of which we should be cognizant as we prepare to meet the Lord when he comes.

Michael R. Heinlein is editor of Simply Catholic. Follow him on Twitter @HeinleinMichael.