Happy New Year!
Advent marks the beginning of a new year in the Church. This is a season of waiting. In our worship each week, we mark the passage of our time of waiting by lighting another candle on our Advent Wreath. These candles symbolize our faith in the coming of the Messiah. They represent our Hope, Our Love, our Joy and God’s peace in the world. During Advent, we hear of four most important people – Isaiah in all the four Sundays, John the Baptist in 2nd and 3rd Sundays, Mary and Joseph in the 4th Sunday.
In the first reading, when Isaiah uttered this prophecy, his country, the kingdom of Judah, was preparing for a great war. Jerusalem was in danger of being destroyed. Isaiah began speaking amidst this general terror: Jerusalem far from being destroyed was to become the center of the world. It was going to be the starting point of a movement towards universal peace.
He promised three things, first that the mountain on which Jerusalem was built was going to be one day the highest of all mountains and that Jerusalem was to become the center of interest of the world. Secondly, He then foresees that peoples without number will come to Jerusalem. Finally, the reason for this pilgrimage would not be the usual offering of sacrifices or to fulfill a vow in the temple, but a search for the Lord’s word and a need to receive his teachings.
Paul in the second reading uses a very beautiful comparison in order to describe the life of the Christians. He says before baptism, we were walking in the darkness of the night and were doing the things that one is ashamed to do in daylight. After baptism we abandon all the bad things and entered the kingdom of light, we take off the old dress and put on a new habit: Christ.
Paul is aware that the darkness among Christians is not yet completely over. He admits that the night still wraps the world, but he is not discouraged. His words are an invitation of Hope: the night is almost over, it will be daylight soon, and a new humanity is about to start. Paul shows us that the ideal preparation is to put on Christ, to reflect in our daily life his standards and his values.
Jesus in the Gospel wants to tell us that he continually comes to save us, to make us happy, but we must keep constantly awake and attentive so as to heed his coming.
We must also remain patient and resolute in our ways. We live in a world in which we are expected to travel at 200 miles per hour in a 2 mile per hour zone. This is how accidents happen. Our accidents and mistakes lead us away from God and into sin. We must go about our days as Christ tells those whom he healed – to go and sin no more.
May our participation in the Eucharist make us ready to meet the Lord when he comes. Remember that participation comes in many forms, and the form most trusted to us, is that of Guard of Honor.