Dear Friends in Christ,
We now enter the holy season of Advent. This is a penitential season, thus our altar will not be overly decorated (though not as stark as during Lent), the priests and deacons will wear the color violet, our Advent wreath will descend from the ceiling with each candle be lighted as the four weeks unfold and the readings will be rich in prophecy and a call to prepare for the coming of the Lord. The very word “Advent” means “coming” which is a return of the Lord Jesus. A very popular song during the season of Advent is O Come, O Come Emmanuel:
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
We see in the first line a calling out for the Lord to come to us. The very name Emmanuel means “God with us.” We should reach out to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to be present in our midst and to expand in our lives. The word “ransom” is to pay for the release of a prisoner. We are prisoners of sin and death. This world so often offers us a cage rather than freedom. The Lord Jesus wants us be free to bear fruit in the Holy Spirit as seen in the fifth chapter of Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” The Lord makes it possible for our soul to bear this fruit. The song speaks of mourning. How sad people seem today! Even at Mass, people leave without a nod of greeting. An encounter with the Lord should bring us joy. Perhaps many are carrying heavy burdens and are in mourning for what could be. The Infant Jesus wants to make us smile. He wants us to rejoice and to wait for Him. This will not happen without an active relationship with the Lord. We must pray, confess our sins, attend Holy Mass, read the Word and pray the Holy Rosary. The Lord desires to come into our lives in an even deeper way! “Lift up your heads, you gates; them up, you ancient doors that the King of glory may come in.” (Psalm 24:9).