Today marks the beginning of a new liturgical season for the Church. The psalmist in Sunday’s readings exclaims, “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord!” We can think in one sense the house of the Lord as the church and parish community we belong to. Yet we are invited to consider more intentionally our own hearts as the house of the Lord. Great care is taken in preparation for family and friends gathering for the holidays as they unwind from daily obligations.
St. Paul in the second reading exclaims to the Romans, “It is the hour for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now that when we first believed.” Being awake means to be fully attentive to who is present and being present respectively. Much the same with the arrival and family and friends to one’s home, one is fully present and attentive to them at all times until they depart for the evening. Jesus however desires to stay and make our hearts a place of permanent residence. Have we been attentive and present to him lately?
The first candle that we light on the Advent wreath is that light which Isaiah exclaims to the house of Jacob in the first reading, “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord” This guiding light is a “lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey,” (Lumen Fidei, 57). This light, that enables us to see and be in the presence of Christ, is our Christian faith. This Advent season is an opportunity for us to revisit those aspects of our faith that we have neglected.
We light candles to remind us the time remaining until Christ is born into the world. The candle, our own Christian faith, is rekindled every Advent to remind us where our faith comes from and the necessity for our faith to be rekindled:
“The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.” (Lumen Fidei, 38).
Keeping vigil is central to the season of Advent. Today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew tells us that those who keep vigil will be those who remain while those who fall asleep are those taken away. “Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.” Who will you be during this Advent season, the one taken away by the world of business or the one remaining through the light of faith?