The Advent season is celebrated with a spirit of reconciliation, hope, faith renewal, and anticipation. This is actually a season of prayerful watch as we get ourselves ready to welcome Christ, the “New-born King” in our lives.
“Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)
The etymology of the word, “Advent”, comes from the Latin “adventus” that means “coming” and refers to the coming of Christ. The season of Advent extends over four Sundays, beginning with the Sunday nearest to the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30).
The season ultimately invites us to the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas; but most importantly, to actively and consciously participate in the grace and celebration of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist; and to get ourselves ready for the coming of our Lord at the end of time, the “parousia”.
“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’” (Isaiah 2:2-3b)
We do not have a data to determine exactly when the celebration of Advent first started in the Church. But one of the earliest documents showing that Christmas was celebrated on December 25 was found in Antioch around the middle of the second century. The persecution of Christians was still going on then. The celebration of Christmas became official in the church in the fourth century when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, and made an official declaration for the celebration of Christmas. It was in the Council of Tours in 567, that the period of Advent was pronounced a time of fasting before Christmas.
During this Advent, I invite you to reflect on the meaning of life as God’s chosen people and recall on how the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament and the prophets were fulfilled in Christ Jesus. This is a time for awareness of the goodness and mercies of God in our world today. Did you know that Advent seems to get lost in our today’s culture? We so often think of the month of December as “the Christmas season” and we spend a lot of energy and vitality decorating our homes, trees and streets, but often neglect to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.