1st Sunday of Advent

‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness’

A candle represents hope, guidance, a beacon.

Things are never so dark and cold as the next four weeks. The days are still getting shorter – the darkness deepens. Now we need the light. All over the Catholic Church – in every Catholic church you will walk into this weekend, all over the planet – you will see the same sight – one lit candle, an incompleteness, a waiting, an expectancy.

We are called to be lights to each other, especially the poor, the less well off, the lonely, the depressed, the discouraged, those with few supports, those struggling to make ends meet. As the darkness of economic gloom and political uncertainty surround us, we are unsure of where to turn. It is constant to hear of economic woes. Now we need hope more than ever.

Advent can be compared to pregnancy – for a long time, when you hear that someone is expecting, there are no immediate or discernible outward signs, yet slowly but surely, life is forming and growing in the inner recesses of the womb, and later, visible signs of growth and movement become apparent to all.

So it is today – it is just the beginning. Now we can begin the four week preparation for the coming of the Christ in 4 weeks time. As always the secular milestones have already been passed – the turning on of Christmas lights, the playing of Christmas tunes, the Toy Show on the TV. But when you walk into a Catholic Church anywhere in the world in the next 4weeks – there is no audio-visual reminder of Christmas in the music or the decorations or the colours. Here there are no ads. Things seem bare, yet there is expectation.

Using the letters of ADVENT, we can now sum up today's readings:

AD = Arise from Darkness, Act Decently – involves a change of heart and a change of behaviour. To arise from darkness – St Paul tells us that there are certain sins that are happen under cover of darkness – crimes of passion, drunkenness, promiscuous behaviour, license (no limits or restraint), wrangling, jealousy.In the pure light of day – we would not be seen doing certain things in public view. . Instead we are called to Decency.

VE = We hear the Voices of Encouragement especially from the prophet Isaiah – come let us go to Jerusalem - We likewise must be a Voice of Encouragement to others to come before the Lord. We will also hear the voice of John the Baptist when we light the second and third candles, and the Voice of Mary as we light the fourth.

NT = Now is the Time. this is a phrase we also hear from St Paul today. The alarm clock is ringing and there is no snooze button (that great invention!). This is no to dally and turn over in the bedclothes, the sun is up, the day has arrived. Now is the Time to put the old ways behind, especially immoral actions of drunkenness, dishonesty and debauchery St Paul refers to.

Let us truly celebrate the season of Advent by turning to the Readings and pondering their message of hope. Let us patiently wait – let us not jump the gun – let us ponder, pray, reflect and anticipate. Let us stand ready, repentant and converted.

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