Second Sunday of Advent
THE SEASON OF ADVENT
By Lisa Fernandes
Today is the second week of four weeks which make up the season of Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” meaning coming and this time is about both the coming of Christ at Christmas as in his historical birthday and the Second Coming to bring justice and harmony to the world. In this season of Advent before Christmas, we have moved from ordinary times in the liturgy to a time of celebration where we look forward to Christ’s coming. Themes throughout Advent include hope, peace, joy and love.
The readings for the second week of Advent deal with peace. In the first reading, we learn about a time of peace and safety: “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid…..” (Isaiah 11: 6) In the second reading, we see further a discussion of hope – telling us not to give up hope but to wait in harmony with one another: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus…” (Rom 15:5) The gospel continues this theme of waiting and hoping and, in addition, we see a theme of repentance in which the faithful will prepare themselves for Christ’s coming: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt 3: 2). The Gospel refers to John the Baptist as an example of how we might anticipate Christ’s coming.
As we all know, colour plays a significant role in the church as it takes us through the liturgical year. For the season of Advent, purple in the vestments, candles, hangings etc. has a meaning of sovereignty, i.e. Christ is King. (I love the season of Advent as it is the season of new beginnings and my favourite colour purple is in abundance). During this time as well, the Advent wreath is traditionally lit. The wreath itself is a symbol of eternity and unending love.
There are four candles. The second candle, which is purple, is the Bethlehem candle which represents the birthplace of Christ (the first coming) and the hope of Christ coming again to the world.
This new liturgical year is also the anniversary of the Reformation – the 500th anniversary which was recently observed ecumenically with Pope Francis and Lutherans. We can recognize the pain of the divisions in the church because we all experience divisions in our own lives. We encounter it in our own society trying to live together in a diverse country.
As an American citizen, I see as we look to the south, how the problems of possible divisions still exist. During Advent, there is time for all of us to experience repentance as we reach out with a goal towards harmony.