The Light of Advent
This Sunday, we Christians, begin Advent, a four-week liturgical season that precedes Christmas. The name “Advent” was adopted from the Latin adventus meaning “coming, arrival.” The season of Advent in the Christian calendar anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives: the physical nativity in Bethlehem, the reception of Christ in the heart of the believer, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time.
Although the Church uses the color violet for the liturgical vestments of the Mass celebrant, similarly to Lent, the spiritual atmosphere of this season is different. In Advent, the accent is placed on a joyful expectation of Christmas – a celebration of the commemoration of the historical revelation of God in and through His Son, Jesus Christ. In this season, we also joyfully meditate on Jesus’ Second Coming.
Contrary to what some people think, Jesus (and the Church) did not want us to fear God and judgment day. We are invited to eagerly expect Jesus’ coming while continuously growing in knowledge and love of God and other people. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear” (1John 4:18) as the Apostle John reminds us. Similarly, St. Paul encourages us to live according to the Gospel as a preparation for the Day of the Lord: “it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day” (Romans 13:12-13). This message is the central message of Advent and, in fact, of the entire Gospel.
Advent falls on one of the most uninviting seasons of the year: less sunlight, shorter days and cold weather. However, these same weeks are illuminated by an amazing light and brightness. In Advent, the Church presents to us the true light, “the light that never sets” – Jesus Christ! This truth is highlighted by four Advent wreath candles we use in this season. These are small but powerful symbols of the powerful love that comes from God. He is the source of true light, true life and goodness on the earth and in heaven.
May the beauty of Advent with all its scripture readings, hymns, the liturgy, symbols and the entire atmosphere encourage us to meditate on our personal life in the light of our vocation as human beings and children of God. May it help us to grow in authentic love of God and our brothers and sisters. When the light of God begins to burn brightly in us, it will soon ignite a similar light in others.
Fr. Mark Jurzyk