Every year, on the First Sunday of Advent, we begin to tell the Jesus story again. We tell it every year, and you might think that we would exhaust the story, but that is far from the truth. The meaning of the Jesus story is inexhaustible. As a priest I have preached the 3-year cycle of readings 14 times over the past 42 years. Through study and meditation on the readings, in preparation for preaching, I am astounded at how much I continue to learn every time.
The season of Advent is preparation for the season of Christmas. Spiritually we begin by entering into the journey of the people of Israel, before the coming of the Messiah. One of the readings for Midnight Mass tells us, “The people who lived in darkness have seen a great light.” The whole world was in spiritual darkness before Christ came. Those today who do not know Christ live in darkness. When we, through our sinfulness, separate ourselves from Christ, we also live in darkness. Advent helps us to understand that darkness and how Christ will fill it with His light.
Advent also presents the two New Testament characters who represent the immediate preparation for the coming of Christ—John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary. During this liturgical year, we will be following the Gospel of Matthew. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent we will hear, not the Annunciation to Mary, which is from the Gospel of Luke, but the Annunciation to Joseph. So, Joseph, and his struggle to accept the pregnancy of his fiancé become part of our Advent preparations.
Advent is a penitential season, so each of us should make an effort to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation during this time. I especially appeal to those of you who have not gone to confession for many years to use this Advent season to return to the sacrament and open yourself to the merciful and healing graces of our God.
I regularly hear confessions at 11 am on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I will be hearing confessions after the 9:30 am Sunday Mass on Dec. 11 and after the 11:30 am Sunday Mass on Dec. 4.
–Fr. Mike Comer