Lord, Our Hope Is In You!
“She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21)
Jesus is coming again!
I love Advent!
The liturgical season of Advent focuses on a time of spiritual preparation before Christmas. The four weeks of Advent began this year on Dec. 3. Advent comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming.” During this season the world awaits the birth of a savior who arrives as an innocent baby nurtured by loving parents. We can only appreciate and make sense of Jesus’ return if we truly understand the birth of this baby who came to redeem the world.
The Incarnation of Jesus is the central miracle proclaimed by Christianity. God became Man to save a ruined world. In our Profession of Faith, we proclaim: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
This Divine gift of love brings hope to our world! Do you accept the saving grace God offers to us every day? Living in a culture that seems to ignore this opportunity for redemption challenges us. Experience tells us that those who have suffered and still hope to understand far more about God and life than those who have not. Hope is a way to live genuinely among all the problems of life. We need faith that continues to see possibility when there is no evidence of it, simply because God is God.
The season of Advent has evolved in the life of the Church. The history of its origin is difficult to determine with accuracy. Beginning in France, Advent was a time to prepare for the Epiphany, a day when converts were baptized; and much like the Lenten Season, it was a time of prayer and fasting.
The formalization of Advent in the Church was gradual. In the fifth century the Gelasian Sacramentary, traditionally attributed to Pope St. Gelasius I, was the first to provide Advent liturgies. In the ninth century, the Church designated the first Sunday of Advent as the beginning of the Church year. The importance of this season has always remained a focus on the coming of our Lord. The Church makes present the ancient expectancy of the Messiah by observing the Savior’s first coming. The faithful also renew their passionate desire for His second coming during these four weeks. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matt 24:42).
The symbolic Advent wreath was borrowed from the German Lutherans in the 1500s. The circular wreath, which has no beginning and no end, reminds us of the eternity of God’s plan for salvation. The greenery signifies new life through the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. The light of Christ that dispels darkness is symbolized with four candles. There are three purple candles representing penance and sacrifice, and one pink candle that is lit during the third week, which begins with Gaudete Sunday – a time to rejoice that our preparation is half over.
The most important thing on our Christmas to-do list is to prepare spiritually for this miraculous celebration. Remember, the things you really need for Christmas cannot be purchased. Our world is troubled; pray that the birth of the Christ child will unify us! The asking is free – and the benefits will bring everlasting peace. Amen!