2nd Sunday of Advent

     Some of us love the Christmas season so much that we get so into the decorating, the shopping, gathering with family and friends etc. that we miss this much needed season of Advent in preparation for Christmas and jump directly to Christmas. For others of us the Christmas season can be a very hard time, perhaps because we are missing a loved one, we don’t feel loved or for whatever reason we feel that life has been unfair to us this year. Regardless of the reason there can be the temptation for people who are not in the Christmas spirit to try to avoid this time of year when in reality the season of Advent is exactly what they need.

     One of the hardest lessons to learn growing up is that life is not fair. While there are many things in this world which are beyond our control and can cause great anxiety for many people, in some ways this unfairness and inability to control everything is actually a blessing for us. While it may sound odd, this Advent Season in one way should remind us that we should be grateful that life is not fair. After all, was it fair for Jesus to become a man like us in all things but sin, and die on a cross to save us? Friends, the scandal of Christianity is the truth that the only reason Jesus was born in Bethlehem was to die on Calvary. While every other person in the world has been born to live, Jesus is the one man who was born to die. He was born in Bethlehem because He choose to love the unlovable by freely laying down His life for us.

     Regardless of how we feel this holiday season, the second Sunday of Advent calls us to hope because Jesus loves us so much and desires to enter into our hearts that He unfairly entered into this unfair world to redeem us. No matter how brutally unfair this world treats us we always have hope in the knowledge that Jesus is desiring to enter into our hearts. These two purple candles thus beckon us to heed the words of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord, to make straight the path so that the one who wants to unfairly come into our lives at Christmas will find room in our hearts.

     If we are truly going to prepare the way for the Lord, we must first heed John the Baptist’s call to repentance.  We need to admit our own weaknesses and recognize that we need we need God’s forgiveness, His love, and His strength to navigate this unfair world. The light of these two purple candles in the Advent Wreath call us to prepare our hearts to receive the child in the manger into our hearts at Christmas by “being liberated from what is anti-divine; the quest for pleasure, enjoyment, passions, gain or in a word ourselves.”[1] After all “we will only know God to the extent that we give Him room to be present in us.”[2]

     Our unfair world needs the hope that can only be found in the baby Jesus. It is the beautiful thing about Christmas, namely that it reminds us that in the midst of darkness, God does not stand far off. In the midst of an unfair world God unfairly became man to save us. It is Jesus who pulls us through the messiness of this unfair world into an unfair personal relationship with Him. As that personal relationship with Him develops we come to realize that while this world is not always fair, true peace can reign in our hearts because we come to realize that anything we experience, He has already experienced. It’s the paradox of Jesus, that out of the greatest darkness of unfairness, He brings blinding light and as we come to experience that hope in our lives we begin to live lives of great interior peace.

     Regardless of how we are feeling this holiday season, this season of Advent compels us to look forward with hope to the coming of Christ in 21 short days. This second week of Advent challenges us to look inward on ourselves to see what areas of our life need to undergo conversion, so that the light of Christ can shine brightly through us as a beacon of hope to an unfair world. Friends, with hope in Jesus Christ, let us open our hearts to Him this Advent so that when He unfairly comes to us into our hearts this Christmas, His light may shine through us and bring hope to our unfair world.

[1] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011) pg. 325.

[2] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011) pg. 325.

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