As I am coming to the end of my first semester at St. Louis University, I am, as a co-Sister put it, “eye-brow deep” in studying for finals. In the midst of my studying, one of my favorite ways to take a “brain break” from trying to cram all the information I’ve learned this past semester into my brain, is to pull out my dictionary and look up new words or to go online and find etymologies to words. Call me a nerd, but I just find words and their root meanings or how to came to be fascinating.
Seeing as to how we are right smack in the middle of Advent, I thought it fitting to look up the etymology to the word advent. It turns out that advent comes from the Latin word adventus and has quite a range of meanings. It can mean a coming, arrival, or appearance—all fitting for the way we understand Advent and our waiting for the coming of Jesus on Christmas. However, I came across a translation that both surprised and struck me. Adventus also has a military connotation: incursion or invasion. It turns out that in ancient Rome, the Romans held a special ceremony, an adventus, in which an emperor was formally welcomed with a glorious entry into a city either during a progress or after military campaign. I found this meaning to be so fitting, seeing as to how we celebrate Advent, as a waiting, or rather, a joyful anticipation of the coming of the King of Kings, our Prince of Peace.
Greater is He than any earthly king of emperor! He, the creator of the universe, the maker of our hearts, abandoned His throne in Heaven and chose to come down to us a vulnerable and poor child. Unlike an earthly king, He does not come decked out in magnificence, but rather, comes to us through a lowly maiden, is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and is laid in a manger. Yet, this poor Child comes to redeem and save us, to raise us to new life and to glory with Him. As Advent nears to an end, let us more consciously unite our hearts with Mary, contemplating the awesome wonder of the mystery of the Incarnation, waiting with bated breaths as the coming of the Christ Child draws near. Let us continue to prepare our hearts, clearing out all the cobwebs and clutter that we have allowed to accumulate, so that baby Jesus may have the most glorious of entries and find the most welcoming of dwellings into our hearts on Christmas morning. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!