What is Advent?
We are now in the holy season of Advent where we prepare for both the coming of Christ at Christmas and the second coming at the end of time. It is a spiritual period in which to meditate on these two mysteries and prepare for them. We use the wreath and 4 candles to mark down the 4 weeks before Christmas.
Three of the candles are purple and one is pink. The purple symbolizes preparation through penance and prayer. Purple is also used during Lent. Another way to see it is purple is a physical sign of healing. When we get hurt, the injury becomes purple. During the time of healing, it remains purple until it clears up. Sin hurts us and we need time to heal from it by using the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, Prayer, Fasting, Indulgences and a genuine Spiritual life.
The pink is for the third Sunday or Gaudete Sunday which means “Sunday of Joy.” We are joyous because we are getting closer to Christ’s birth. As each week goes, we light the candle that corresponds to that week.
In the first reading, we see the foreshadowing of the last prophet, St. John the Baptist. We read of the voice in the wilderness that cries out to prepare the way of the Lord. It presents a moment of anticipation. All must stop and prepare for the coming of God. This reading was signaling to Israel that Christ would come. This reading should also remind us today that Christ will return again. We must prepare the way for the Lord once again. However, this time He will come as judge (Romans 2:16). This will be a scary time for some but for others it will be a joyous time. We will see God as He truly is. We will say “fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by His strong arm; here is His reward with him, His recompense before Him.”
The responsorial Psalm replies to the first reading saying “Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” As we await Christ to return, we must ask God to give us kindness and mercy. In addition, we implore God to grant us salvation. Only God can save us, no one else. God is the one who cares for us and shall bring to us, who remain faithful, peace, justice, joy and salvation.
In the second reading from Peter the first Pope, we are reminded that there is no time with God. A day for God is like a thousand years and vice versa. God is not bound by the laws of physics that He has written into our realm of existence. These laws govern our physical existence and the properties of existence as we know it. To us here on Earth, it may seem as if Christ is taking forever to come. Like little children, we perceive time differently. How many times do children get impatient after just 10 minutes have passed? To them, a short time seems eternal. However, as we age ,we sense time as “going too fast.” There seems to be no time for anything anymore. We are God’s children and we can be very impatient at times (Galatians 3:26). St. Peter tells us that God does not delay His promise and that it seems like He is taking a long time to return because He does not want us to perish. God in His awesome mercy wishes all to be saved. He gives us time to fix ourselves by supplying us with His grace which is free (James 4:6). Peter reminds us that God will come like a thief in the night. The universe as we know it will dissolve and we will be before God who will judge each one of us. We must take advantage of God’s patience and use this time to repent and try our best to live by His will which will make us complete.
Finally in the Gospel, we read of St. John the Baptist who was the cousin of Jesus Christ. The fact that God has a cousin is just mind boggling and awesome at the same time. This reminds us that we are part of God’s family. Despite God being the creator, He wants us to be part of Him and became part of us in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:8). The prophecy in the first reading was fulfilled here with St. John the Baptist,
“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert:“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
John the Baptist brought comfort to Jerusalem as the first reading stated. He spoke to the people of the coming Messiah, baptized them with water preparing them for the Messiah Christ. He did so in a humble way living an ascetic lifestyle wearing camel hair clothing and a leather belt connecting him to the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). He ate locusts and wild honey showing that the Word of God while sweet may be extremely difficult to follow (Ezekiel 3:3, Matthew 19:24). This Word of God would be the one who is greater that he and would baptize with the Holy Spirit (John 1:1). Many times we get excited about Jesus. We want to do it all in the Church. Then when the crosses start showing up, we start to rethink this Jesus guy. Some of us stop believing altogether. We must be like John the Baptist bearing discomfort while at the same time preparing the world for the coming of Christ again.
People in the time of John the Baptist probably thought of him as a lunatic. He went about claiming to be the messenger of the Lord. In today’s world, someone would be sent to a mental hospital if he or she made such a claim. However, this is how it is. Those who believe in God are counter cultural. We are seen as the lunatics of the world. They mock us and try to silence us. This is because we bear Jesus Christ who is the light that scatters the darkness (John 8:12). The world sees us as a threat. Nevertheless,we must not become fearful. We must prepare the world for Christ’s second coming just as John the Baptist prepared it. God is with us and no one can stop us (Romans 8:31).