You can feel the Liturgical Seasons change in the daily readings, as much as you can the natural seasons outside. This week, in the Gospel in Mass on Sunday, Jesus calls people to look for the signs of the coming of the Messiah. As it is Jesus who is speaking we see that he is talking of the second coming. His listeners however may not have been aware that the King they waited for was already in their presence.

Next Sunday is Christ the King. We celebrate this uplifting feast before going into the waiting time of Advent. Liturgically, we are reminded of Christ’s glorious Kingship, of his promise to return and then wait for the birth of the Messiah with the people of Israel. As Advent changes into Christmas, the Christ arrives and his coming is seen in the stable, by shepherds, among the poor. It is no less glorious.

In the Office of Readings on Sunday the reading from the Saints was from St Augustine’s commentary on Psalm 95. He writes “Let us not resist his first coming, so that we may not dread the second…He who is without anxiety waits without fear until his Lord comes. For what sort of love of Christ is it to fear his coming? Brothers, do we not have to blush for shame? We love him, yet we fear his coming. Are we really certain that we love him?” If we worry about the thought of Christ the King descending through the clouds, surrounded by light and angels, doesn’t that suggest that we never really loved the Christ who was born among the animals, homeless and despised?

Here is an aspect of the heart of Advent. We wait with longing for Christ’s coming, the one in the stable and the one yet to come. And as we wait, we also allow for Christ coming into our hearts. Part of this is to consider how much we truly love him and how much our own self-centeredness gets in the way. St Augustine asks the question “Do we love our sins more?” Examination of Conscience is a key part of Advent as it is a time of penance. Do I really love Christ and wait with eager longing or do I love my autonomy more? Do I cling to Christ or cling to other things? As we move through Advent waiting, longing, facing the difficult in ourselves, somewhere along the way, something shifts, if we allow it. Our reticence is turned to yearning and our self-centeredness to an ability to sit by the empty crib, preparing to rejoice when he comes.

So as we approach Christ the King we might watch out for the signs of the changing seasons. When we see the buds appear we know that Spring is here and that the fruit will ripen and grow and when the leaves are ready to start turning yellow, the fruit will be ready for picking. When we hear Christ declare his kingdom and meditate on his Kingship on Sunday, we know that our time of waiting and preparing is beginning. Let us long for all his comings; in the stable, in glory, in our hearts.