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Why Advent?

2013 November 26
by Gordon Reid

The Church Year does not begin on January 1 as the present civil calendar does. For the church, the new year begins with Advent Sunday and the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas. This is because the Christian Faith began when the Son of God took human nature of the Virgin Mary and was born as a baby in Bethlehem. And the Church has set aside the four weeks of Advent to represent the time of preparation for the Birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

It does this by using for the readings at Mass and daily Morning and Evening Prayer all that the Hebrew prophets said, predicting that one day God would act decisively to save the world from sin and evil, and to turn the human race towards goodness and love. And He did it, not ┬áby sending just a teacher, but his own Son, who taught the love of God the Father, not mainly in words but in what he did. He came as a helpless baby, lived as a poor and humble man, and died willingly on the Cross – all to show that God his Father’s love was made powerful, not with armies or force, but with the patient, gentle, magnetic love of Jesus his Son. The prophets had taught that such a person would come, and they even predicted what cruel men would do to such a loving person.

So even the lovely scene of the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem has the shadow of the Cross hanging over it. But the Church teaches that we should rejoice, be glad, throw ourselves into the merriment of Christmas, because through the life and death of Jesus, just beginning on Christmas Day, light and joy have entered the world. This is why we give presents at Christmas, to thank God for the greatest gift of all – Jesus Christ.

The Advent Season is when we buy (or make) our presents and our cards, so that when December 25 arrives, we will have done all we can for our family and friends. It is the Season when we prepare our hearts and lives for a new thanksgiving to God for our Lord and Saviour, so that when we receive him at the Midnight Mass or on the morning of Christmas Day, he finds us full of faith, hope and love, ready to face the next Christian Year in thankfulness and joy.

One Response leave one →
  1. Stephen permalink
    December 2, 2013

    Father Reid, I’m curious if you think there needs to be more emphasis on Advent as a penitential season, Some would suggest that with the Lenten season following in such relatively short order that is a bit redundant to have a season of almsgiving and self-denial in Advent. I can see both sides on this issue, but it does often seem that any sense of penance gets lost in Advent as most of us rush to embrace the celebration of a Merry Christmas!

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