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Advent wish list

In the second reading of the liturgy today, we hear St. Paul express his ambitions for the early Christians at Thessalonica.

What he wanted for them would actually make a great wish list for each one of us as we begin this Advent season and our preparation to welcome the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

However, the difference between St. Paul’s wish list and a wish list made up of all the latest gadgets and nick-nacks on sale in shopping malls around Hong Kong is that St. Paul reflects what the Lord wants to give us during Advent and, the wonderful thing about the Lord is that he does not have a credit limit!

What the Lord can give us is only restricted by our own capacity to receive the good things he showers upon those who love him.

What are some of the things Our Lord wants to give us during this Advent season? He wants to increase us, to make us overflow with love for one another and for all whom we meet.

He wants to strengthen our hearts and make us blameless and holy. He wants to enable us “to stand straight and raise our heads... to stand secure before the Son of Man,” to borrow the words from the gospel reading of today.

Perhaps during Advent we could aim to bring our wish list closer to what the Lord wants for us and to be more open to the many ways that he comes to us.

He comes to dwell in our hearts each and every day of the week. He comes to transform us by the gift of himself in the sacraments. He gives us himself as our food and drink.

He also desires to be so closely united with us that we don't know where he leaves off and where we begin. This is what the Lord wants to give us during this Advent season. And who knows best what we want and need than we do? God does!

Advent focusses our attention on the coming of Christ. We live between the two comings of Christ—his first coming in humility and weakness at Bethlehem and his second in majesty and power at the end of time.

We can also be mindful during this week of the feast of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) on December 3, a saint with a particular importance for China.

He was born near Pamplona in Spain in 1506 and entered the University of Paris in 1524, graduating four years later. He was also a friend of St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and they made their religious professions together in 1534 and were ordained in 1537.

St. Francis then went to Rome and on to become the great missionary he is remembered for, travelling to East Indies, Goa, Malacca, Japan and China.

He is the patron saint of all missionaries.

He died of fever on the island of Shangchwan on 3 December 1552. He wrote, “Here in this vineyard we cry to God: Lord, give me not so much joy in this life.”

 l Diocese of Sandhurst Bulletin