My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins her four-week preparation for the celebration of Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, our Lord and saviour. The liturgical colour of Advent is purple, which suggests that there is a certain penitential dimension to this season, and today’s readings stress the need to stay awake and be ready as we await the coming of the Lord.
According to the tradition of the Church there are three comings of the Lord. The first; when He was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem to fulfil the ancient prophecies made by God to His people, Israel. The second coming is the saving presence of Christ in each new generation of believers as they live out their daily lives in obedience to His teaching. His third and final coming will be at the end of time when He returns in glory as judge, and to make all things new. Our lives might be described as an Advent, as a time of waiting in faith for the final coming of our saviour.
During His time on earth Christ taught us to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. Each one of us, therefore, is called upon to play our part in building up that kingdom by what we say and do in the ordinary events of everyday. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading sets before us his divinely inspired and magnificent vision of universal peace, when the weapons of war will no longer be employed, and the nations of the world live together in harmony under God. It is a reality for which we all yearn.
Let us remember that Christ here and now comes to us whenever we think thoughts of peace, pray for peace and reconciliation and follow His example by loving our neighbour as He taught. As He says, Blessed indeed are the peacemakers!
We are very much aware of the darkness and the absence of light at this time of the year. Yet there is another kind of light, and the apostle Paul urges us to stay awake and watch for the approaching light of Christ. The days and weeks leading up to Christmas are busy for most of us; but the lovely season of Advent gently reminds us to stop, take stock, to remember and make our own the great truth of our faith that the Son of Mary still knocks today at our door, desiring our company and friendship, and that He will finally return to take us home to heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters, I pray that Advent may be a grace-filled time for you and your families, and that you may experience all the blessings of Him, who is the Prince of Peace.
With the assurance of my blessing and prayers,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster