For many Catholics, the Advent Wreath is a favorite and rich tradition to celebrate the month of December leading into Christmas Day. While this is popular, many are not yet aware of the richness of meaning and symbolism marked in the tradition.
The Advent candle is marked and lighted with the passing of days leading up to Christmas Eve. Whenever it is lighted, it demonstrates the sharp contrast between light and darkness, between sin and evil. Christ is the “Light of the World”, the hope and Savior of mankind. As more candles are lighted with each passing Sunday, more darkness is diminished telling us that the birth and coming of the Savior is imminent.
The Gospel in this First Sunday of Advent is no different; while it continues to talk about the end times, the theme is still the coming of Jesus:
“There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the turmoil of the ocean and its waves; men fainting away with terror and fear at what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Lk. 21: 25 – 28)
It is a frightening description of what it would be when the time the Eternal King will come again, in power and glory. Yet the Lord exhorts us not to be afraid, because when that time comes, He will get those who belong to Him,
“Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of Man.” (v. 36)
This reminds us that nothing is permanent in this world, except those that belong to God. This is a strong reminder of His faithfulness, as He assures us the plain and simple truth that we are His own. He reminds us to be aware, to be vigilant, and to be prepared. The reality though is that while God is claiming us to be His own, we also have the power to reject Him. When we commit sin we separate ourselves from God, but in His goodness, God always finds a way to bring us back to Him. He invites us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to regularly visit His perpetual and ever-abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist. Despite our sinfulness, Jesus tells us that it is alright to start all over again, “but this time with God”. What great love God has for us!
Aside from responding to His call, being of God means we also allow ourselves to be used by Him. In this season full of hope, as His Advent or “coming” draws nearer, as another candle is lit, the darkness is dispelled a little more.
May we always choose to dissipate the darkness and make the light of Jesus shine more brightly in our lives.