What does the word “Advent” mean?
It has Latin roots and a double spiritual meaning.
The word “Advent” stems from the Latin word adventus, which literally means “coming” or “arrival.” In context, this commonly refers to the coming of Jesus on Christmas day.
St. Jerome, when composing the Latin Vulgate, also used adventus when translating the Greek word parousia. This word has a similar meaning, but in a broader context refers to Jesus’ second coming at the end of time.
There is even an ancient tradition that says Jesus will come again during the Advent season. For this reason as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, we recognize that Jesus could come again at any time and prepare our own hearts to receive him when he does.
The first half of Advent is typically dedicated to Jesus’ “parousia,” or “second coming.”
The word refers to an “arrival” or “presence,” and signals the day when Jesus will return in glory.
Advent has always been associated with this Christian belief as the first coming of Jesus on Christmas naturally reminds us of his second coming, for which we are to prepare ourselves.
The opening prayer for the First Sunday of Advent reflects this reality.
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
The Gospel of the First Sunday of Advent similarly invokes this need to prepare ourselves for the second coming of Jesus.
Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. (Matthew 24:42)
In general this focus on the parousia endures for the first half of Advent, when the Church shifts its focus from the second coming of Jesus, to a celebration of his first coming at Christmas.
When preparing yourself for Christmas, keep in mind this oft-forgotten aspect of Advent and look forward to the end of time when Jesus will come again and wipe away all tears and put a definitive end to all the suffering on this earth.