One of the questions I remember often getting when I visited elementary schools was “why do we wear purple at Advent”. Lent it seemed easier to talk to people about the penitential nature of the season. Advent, perhaps because the coming of Christmas is so exciting and the celebration of Christmas so joyous, it seems difficult to talk to people about this important dimension of Advent. So I would often ask the kids to open their Bible and I would go to the Nativity story and then ask them to go back to before that to the story of John the Baptist and as we know John prepared the people for the coming of the Lord with a baptism of repentance.
Penance should not dominate the season of Advent, but it should be a part of the season. This is why our parishes have Advent Reconciliation Services and large-scale confessions. This is part of the “preparation” and “expectation” which marks the Advent season and is the essence of our Gospel message today. We await the Lord as Christians, “never knowing the hour and the place” for ourselves or the Lord’s coming. But when we’ve prepared ourselves and when we await (as this season reminds us), the Lord’s coming again in glory will bring great joy into the world. Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that not all will appreciate that, though He wants all of us to. He isn’t “scaring us with the Gospel”, instead He is reminding us that all we have to do is remain humble, confess our sins, try our best to be Christians, work hard at staying close to Him and dialogue with Him in prayer. The Church provides us the Way (of our Lord Himself) and so our staying close to the Church helps us to receive this Gospel and prepare ourselves once again for our Lord’s entry into the world.
Today, there tends to be a lot of negativity and “in-fighting” even among Christians which gets in the way of how our Gospel will be received in a positive light. I have read more than a few blogs that are so vitriolic and hostile to any differing opinion and attitude and as much as anyone might ever choose to read any of my blog posting, we choose to read each others. It saddens me that so many Catholic Christians are choosing to use what really can be a wonder social media tool to say hurtful, unChristian things about our Holy Father, bishops, priests and others Christians with differing viewpoints. It is my hope that the Advent (and Christmas) season will help lighten our spirits and the Sacrament of Penance will lighten our spiritual burden and there might be more constructive reflections which Christians have the opportunity to read.
This would be a great manifestation of the Lord coming into our world in a greater way, in a way of our choosing. Through our hearts, in our minds and words and allowing it to penetrate our souls.