(Ooops!!!!. I jumped the gun last week, looking at the Gospel for the 2nd week of Advent rather than the 1st. By the time I discovered it, the bulletin was already printed…. Here’s an updated comment for this Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent!)
As I explained in my homily last Sunday, Advent has a two fold character: it. It takes our glance both to the first and second coming of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 524 puts it this way:
“When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s (i.e. John the Baptist*) birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
That ‘desire’ of John the Baptist is highlighted, not just in the Second Sunday of Advent but also in the season of Lent (just before Easter). And tells us something: It tells us that Advent, besides a time of waiting and expectancy, and a time of making God seen in our lives (‘He must increase….’), is also a time that has a “penitential character”. It is a time of Spiritual Preparation that includes working towards a repentant heart, that when He comes again, we could openly receive Him.
Prepare Him a way…. Fr Michael