BY FATHER JOJI THANUGUNDLA
“Advent is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ” Thomas Merton.
With the Feast of Christ, the Universal KING, we have concluded the liturgical year. This weekend webegin our First week of Advent and the New Year in our church’s calendar.
Struggling with the pandemic, experiencing the social unrest, economic uncertainty, and the anxiety thatis gripping the world, we do not see much newness and excitement in beginning our Liturgical New Year.In spite of all the hardships we continue to believe and uphold our faith in God. This Advent can be ablessing amidst the struggle to wait for the Lord. As we wait for a cure (vaccine) for the virus, we are, attimes, led into despair and darkness. The news and world around us can easily lead us away from God.In these times we hold on to God and spend time in prayer and charity, staying away from consumerism.Each year as much as we try to focus on the spiritual preparation of Advent and Christmas, somehow, weare tempted to spend much time, energy, and attention only on the external aspects. This year we have aperfect opportunity to delve into deeper connections with each other and with God.
The four Sundays preceding Christmas, which are when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, arerecognized for four virtues. The candles on the Advent wreath symbolize Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.The candles are lighted in that order, beginning today. Some consider the fourth candle to mean purity,and most use a fifth candle, called the Christ candle, that is lighted on Christmas to remind Christians ofthe light Jesus brings to the world.
Let us focus our prayer and attention on; The Gift of Hope, that we can bring a cure for the virus; theGift of Love, that we are united with each other as sisters and brothers; the Gift of Joy, that we arealways loved by God and that God sent his Son to save us; and the Gift of Peace, to see all humanity andthe creation to be in harmony, to coexist with all our differences.
I encourage all of us to take a few minutes everyevening to pray, reflect, and read the scriptures withan Advent candle burning. I pray that God gives usstrength to celebrate the feast of Christmas withprofound joy and gratitude.With peace and love.
Fr. Joji Thanugundla.