Pastor's Corner 120113

posted Nov 27, 2013, 8:31 AM by Music Director

This weekend we begin my favorite liturgical season, Advent, which inaugurates a new liturgical year. (Happy New Year, everyone!)  We move from the C Cycle of Sunday Scripture readings, which features the Gospel of Luke, to the A Cycle, featuring the Gospel according to Matthew. 

Advent is, above all, a season of hope, a time of joyful anticipation.  The word itself comes from the Latin, adventus, which means “arrival.”  And therein is the reason for our hope, what we are called to joyfully anticipate:  the arrival of Jesus in His glorious SECOND coming.

Advent reminds us that as God promised to send a savior (the fulfillment of which is celebrated at Christmas) so that Savior promised to return.  (See John 14:1-6, for example.)  Not knowing when this will happen, Advent calls us to be prepared not just in these weeks before Christmas but always.  We are to be like children awaiting the visit of Santa Claus, because this second coming of Christ is to fulfill our greatest hope and desire, as proclaimed in the Nicene Creed:  “the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.”

We reflect on the words of the prophets of ancient Israel that foretold the Messiah’s first coming, the last of whom was John the Baptist, who even from within his mother’s womb was a voice crying out, “The Lord is come!  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord!’”  (See Luke 1:39-45) We reflect on John’s mission, and that of the humble couple from Nazareth, Mary and Joseph, whose acceptance of their roles brought about the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation.  However, we see that plan unfold in reverse order in our Scriptures for the Advent season, beginning with Jesus’ promise of a second coming, then moving backward to see God’s plan come to fruition.

The signs and symbols of this season are ones of joyful preparation and expectationLight is the most prominent symbol, for it shatters darkness, relieves fear and gives hope.  (Isn’t that why Jesus came into the world?) Thus, the primary symbol of this season is the Advent Wreath, 4 candles fixed to a wreath of evergreens which helps us to count the weeks of the season as if we’re counting the days until He returns in glory.  We bathe our homes in light to signal that here live people of light who anticipate and are preparing for the coming of the One who is “light from light,” the true Light of the world.”  Like leaving a porch or living room light on when loved ones go out for the evening, that they can find their way back to a place where they are wanted and loved, we light up our homes hoping that the Messiah will find His way to us. 

As people of light we seek forgiveness of our sins in sacramental penance, and do good works, particularly for the needy, which is why Advent features penance services (ours will be celebrated on Dec. 18) and charitable works like “The Giving Tree” which helps less fortunate families have a wonderful Christmas.    

Listen closely to the words of the prayers and hymns of the season.  Look intently at and immerse yourself in the symbols we use and the customs we keep. And rather than getting caught up in the commercialism of what many have attempted to make a secular holiday, get caught up in the spirit of what makes Advent 4 weeks of holy days, the real “reason for the season!”

 

Let’s go Eagles!

(And Flyers and Sixers, too!)

In His Love,

Fr. Mike

 

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