ADVENT SEASON IS HERE AGAIN!
(THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH’S LITURGICAL YEAR)
My dear friends in Christ, in few hours to come, am gonna be wishing you all a “HAPPY NEW YEAR”.
Some of you may wonder why I decide to wish you a happy new year at this point in time. This is chiefly because the Church commences her new liturgical year with the Season of Advent, and today (already evening) is the First Vespers (Vigil) of the First Sunday of Advent.
The word Advent from the Latin “Adventus” means “coming” or “arrival.” The focus of the entire season is the preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2000 year old event in history.
It is pertinent, however, to note that there are two parts of Advent:
PART 1: UP UNTIL DECEMBER 16
While most liturgical seasons have the gospel as their focus, during the first weeks of Advent, the Church gives us daily readings from the prophet Isaiah. With the eyes of faith, these foretell the coming of the Messiah. Rather than a continuous gospel narrative familiar to us for most of the year, this part of Advent offers a wide variety of gospel readings that support the first reading of the day.
After almost two weeks of Isaiah readings, we hear the foretelling of a Messiah from other prophets from the Hebrew Scripture – in Sirach, Numbers, Zephaniah and returning to Isaiah. With each passing week, the prophets speak more clearly of the coming of a Saviour.
Therefore, in reading the first reading, for the first part of Advent, we listen to the anticipation, expectation, hope and promise. In listening to the second reading, we listen for the fulfilment or connection with the gospel.
PART 2: DECEMBER 17 – 24
In these last eight days before Christmas, the relationship between the readings changes. Now the gospel brings us to our celebration of Christmas. The gospels are taken from the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke.
Each of these days, the first reading is taken from the Hebrew Scripture, and chosen to match the gospel. In many cases, we can imagine Matthew or Luke having the first reading open on their desks while they wrote the gospel.
The sense of anticipation and fulfilment builds as we read the story of the preparation for Jesus’ first coming into this world for us.
Historically, the primary sanctuary colour of Advent is Purple. This is the colour of penitence and fasting as well as the colour of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. Purple is still used in some traditions (for example Roman Catholic). The purple of Advent is also the colour of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week. This point to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death. The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion.
Dear friends in Christ, throughout this season, we are called to focus our minds and hearts at the coming of Christ, so that when He finally comes, we shall say: “Through the Loving mercy of our God the rising Sun has come to visit us…”
A fruitful Advent season to you all… Maranatha – come Lord Jesus.
HAPPY NEW YEAR ONCE AGAIN!!!