Here we are at the beginning of another Church year, today we have a change of colour and a change mood we go from the green of Ordinary time to the Purple which symbolizes the penitential season of Advent last week, at the end of the Church’s year, we had the highpoint of the Feast of Christ the King. This weekend we begin all over again as we light the first purple candle on the advent wreath. Advent is the season that brings us back to the ancient longing of the human race for the coming of one who would bring to this world liberation from sadness and the fulfillment of perfect peace.
The word Advent derives from the Latin word meaning coming. The Lord is coming may the heavens rejoice and earth be glad. We may reflect that every year at this time and celebrate his coming, so that in a sense we can lose the feeling of expectancy and joyful anticipation, because at the end of the season everything seems to return to pretty much the same routine. If that is the case, then our preparation may have been lacking and we have therefore been robbed of much of the true meaning of this season.
During Advent we recall the history of God’s people and reflect on how the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament were fulfilled. At the beginning of each church year we are reminded that Jesus the Christ is present as a person to us. When we think that his presence is something so exalted as to be beyond our own experience, we are reminded that he was born in the lowliest of places, a common stable. The first visitors were rough shepherds. The preparation of Advent is for us to prune, weed and convert our way of thinking.
The prophet Jeremiah foretold the day when God would send his Messiah King to “execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise and every promise which God has made. In these short verses in the Gospel, Jesus described the beginning of God’s final initiative. He would give signs of warning across the sky, cause anxiety on earth with violent sea storms, and shake up the heavens. What we would explain scientifically today as eclipses, meteor showers, and the result of storm systems on earth, the ancients attributed to God’s intervention in the order of the cosmos. God would shake things up and so he does just look at Pope Francis for example and the way he challenges us as individuals and as members of the Church.
People of Jesus time would grow anxious because their faith systems and rituals failed. But, Christians were to rejoice. Their Savior was at hand! Now, their world view and lifestyle would be vindicated. For, Christians saw the world and lived in the world differently. Finally, Luke presents a time of hope. Through great power and glory, the Son of Man would come and free his followers. Unlike the anxious people of the world, the Christians were to anticipate the end in hope. During Advent, we are invited to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Lord – to wait in joyful hope for his return in glory at the end of time and to prepare for the annual celebration of his birth. So now let us go forth in peace and hope to prepare meet the Lord at Christmas.