WAITING IN JOYFUL HOPE!
Advent is a time for new thoughts, new beginnings, new projects, as we start a new year of Christian prayer and worship. The Gospel calls us to be ready to welcome Jesus as the anchor of our lives, our true Saviour, and prepare for his return at the end of time. It’s an open invitation to make a new start in our personal spiritual journey.
This coming Sunday is the first day of Advent. The word ‘Advent’ is from the Latin ‘Adventus,’ which means ‘coming.’ Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Western churches. The liturgical color for this season is purple. Like Lent, Advent is a preparatory season. It is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of the event of Christ’s birth, and for the time when Christ will come again.
During Advent, we need to …….
……. prepare ourselves worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
……. make our souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and
……. make ourselves ready for his final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.
- Missing The Signal! In its day, the Titanic was the world’s largest ship, weighing 46,328 tons and it was considered unsinkable. Yet, late during the night of April 14-15, 1912, the unthinkable happened to the unsinkable. Near midnight, the great Titanic struck an iceberg, ripping a three hundred foot hole through five of its sixteen watertight compartments. It sank in two and a half hours killing 1,513 people. Before the Titanic sank, warning after warning had been sent to tell the crew that they were speeding into an ice field, but the messages were ignored. In fact, when a nearby ship sent an urgent warning, the Titanic was talking to Cape Race about the time the chauffeurs were to meet arriving passengers at the dock in New York, and what dinner menus were to be ready. Preoccupied with the trivia, the Titanic responded to the warning, “Shut up. I am talking to Cape Race. You are jamming my signals!” Why did so many die that night? Perhaps the crew disregarded the danger of the weather; there were not enough lifeboats on board; and the radio operator of nearby California was off duty; perhaps those responsible did not heed the warnings, they were preoccupied with other things! – Sometimes we believe that our ‘ship’ is unsinkable, our life is all well planned, and the unthinkable can never happen to us. We need to read the signs of the time, we need to pay attention to the warning signals. But if we are preoccupied with the trivial things of life we will miss the most important till it is too late.
- Are We Waiting? “In his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, Jewish psychiatrist Viktor Frankl tells the story of how he survived the atrocities of the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Frankl says one of the worst sufferings at Auschwitz was waiting: waiting for the war to end, waiting for an uncertain date of release and waiting for death to end the agony. This waiting caused some prisoners to lose sight of future goals, to let go of their grip on present realities and give up the struggle. This same waiting made others like Frankl accept it as a challenge, as a test to their inner strength and a chance to discover deeper dimensions of freedom.” Albert Cylwicki
This year Advent begins with two very positive readings, followed by a stern warning. The FIRST READING is from the prophet Jeremiah. “The days are coming when the promise will be fulfilled,” Jeremiah wrote to people who were decimated by their enemies. The Babylonians had captured many of them and sent them in chains to Babylon. The Hebrews knew that they had sinned against God. The exile was a result of their sins. But had God totally deserted them? “No,” Jeremiah said. By their own choice they were no longer in a righteous relationship with God. But God had not given up on them. The time was coming when Jerusalem and Judah would be safe from all terrors. A righteous shoot of David would lead them. And Jerusalem would be a place of justice, a place of union with God.
In the SECOND READING, St. Paul writes to the people of Thessalonica. These people expected the Lord to come soon. Some were nervous, some were absolutely frantic. Paul tells them that all they have to do is abound in love for one another and for all. This will strengthen them so they will be blameless in holiness before God at the coming of the Lord Jesus and his holy ones.
The GOSPEL READINGS for Advent each year invite us to meditate on the mystery of waiting, and they do it by presenting us with stories of great people who knew how to wait. On the first Sunday, Jesus himself is the model as he taught his followers the spirituality of “waiting in joyful hope”.
The passage is clearly in two sections, verses 25 to 28, and verses 34 to 36. You must interpret verses 25 to 28 in the light of your experience, times when your world or the world of your family or other community collapsed. Allow the dramatic language to express this experience, making sure that you recognise the double movement of collapse and rebirth. If you decide to meditate on verses 34 to 36, the key will be to identify concretely the meaning of “that day”, a time like the one in verses 25 to 28. Then you will get a feel for the teaching of Jesus.
Great tragedies befall us from time to time: we lose our job; salaries are not paid; jobs are not steady; or a spouse proves unfaithful; fights every day, misunderstandings always, we just cant forget the hurt; or we discover that one of our children is on drugs; disobedient, rebellious, arrogant; or we fall into a sin we thought we had overcome, sexual immorality, addicted to pornography, etc.
These are moments of great distress. It is as if the sun and moon and stars are no longer there in the heavens. We feel as if we are drowning, the ocean and its clamorous waves overwhelming us. The powers of heaven have been shaken and we are dying of fear as we await the future which menaces us.
But, somehow or other, that moment, terrible as it is, brings its own grace:
* we find we have more courage than we thought;
* our family finds a new unity;
* we forgive a long-standing hurt.
Jesus comes into our lives with power and great glory. We have learnt now that we need never panic. When these things begin to take place, we can stand erect, hold our heads high and say: Lord, we thank you for the times when we, oppressed people can stand erect and hold our heads high because a moment of liberation is near at hand.
Advent allows a step back from our preoccupation with economic worries and the cares of the world. It raises our eyes to see the new liturgical year as the hopeful dawn of salvation that will ultimately reach completion with our participation. Fear about the “end of the world” gets replaced by excitement about the fullness of God’s Reign. Your “ransom,” “liberation,” and “redemption” are at hand!
Fear sells newspapers and grabs our attention with every news broadcast. Terrorists might attack, hackers may control the Internet, a gallon of gas may double in price! Shrill talking heads on TV and radio constantly inflate every troublesome situation into catastrophic tragedy. The gullible get scared. People of faith, by contrast, click the “off” button.
For faithful disciples, the right agenda drives out fear. We know concerns like immigration, poverty, torture, capital punishment, the environment, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and every violence demand our attention. We people of faith overcome our fear by speaking out, knowing “the Lord our justice” (Jer 33:16) stands by our side.
Fear, however, will grip those who get bloated on self-indulgence. Luke addresses his warning to the rich, i.e., the “greedy,” the over-consumers and super-consumers who “will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world” (Lk 21:26).
The poor seldom have time for trivial activities of self-indulgence. They’re too busy scratching for survival. And therein lies the key: by identifying with the agenda of the poor, our concern turns to love and that drives out fear. We stand with the oppressed, the deprived and those discriminated against.
How is my faith this year compared to last year? And what would I be asking for? Would I promise anything to help me wait actively for Jesus – Mass more often than Sunday, the Angelus every day, to read the Bible each day, to be kinder and more just, care for the poor and needy at home or away?
Let my Advent bring me closer to God. If we wait in faith and in hope, then everything, even the carols sung too early and the celebrations too early, can remind us of God coming soon in Jesus Christ, born of Mary. May we wait in joy, patience and in hope with Mary, Our Blessed Mother!
How Advent Can Make A Difference:: Some “Beauty Tips” For Keeping Advent!
1. Cleanse your heart daily with repentance.
2. Bathe thoroughly in the Word of GOD.
3. Apply forgiveness to keep wrinkles away.
4. Stay moisturised with prayer.
5. Sprinkle yourself with love; it’s the sweetest perfume.
6. Dash plenty of patience.
7. Remember worry and anger cause disease.
8. Faith is the key to ageing gracefully.
9. Wear a smile to give your face a perfect glow.
And, whilst you’re at it, just remember to ….
*** Stop Boasting! No matter how beautiful and handsome you are, just remember Baboons and Gorillas also attract tourists. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” GAL 6:14
*** Be Humble! No matter how big and strong you are, you will not carry yourself to your Grave. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” JN 3:30
*** Be Patient! No matter how tall you are, you can never see tomorrow. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” ROM 12:12
*** Be Cautious! No matter how Light Skinned you are, you will always need light in the Darkness. “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.” PROV 14:16
*** Be Contented! No matter how Rich or how many Cars you have, you will always walk to Bed. “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”" HEB 13:5
Take Life Easy…. Life is “Exp. + Exp. + Exp.”
Yesterday was Experience. Today is Experiment. Tomorrow is Expectation.
So, use your Experience in your Experiment to achieve your Expectations.
Celebrating Jesus, the Light of the World!
The Advent wreath is part of our long-standing Catholic tradition. The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful.
The wreath is made of various EVERGREENS, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly.
The CIRCLE of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ.
Any SEEDPODS, pine cones or nuts used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection.
All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through his own passion, death, and resurrection.
The FOUR CANDLES represent the four weeks of Advent. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass. Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead.
The LIGHT signifies Christ, the Light of the World. Some modern day adaptions include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve.
Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap.