Column – Hope and healing, justice and peace, and love for Advent

Published 4:59 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Advent season has begun for Christians worldwide, with the first Sunday on Dec. 3. 

(The season highlights the Advent wreath in a perfect circle, symbolizing the eternity of God. It’s distinctly displayed at the altar of every church. In it are four outer candles (three purple and one pink or violet) and one large white candle at the center. These candles symbolize the virtues that Jesus Christ brings to all the faithful and believers: HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE.

One of the four small candles of the Advent wreath was lit on Dec. 3. Another one will be lit on Dec. 10, the second Sunday of Advent; then another candle is lit on the 3rd Sunday, Dec. 17, and the fourth on the fourth Sunday, Dec, 24, Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, all four outer candles will be lit, in addition to the large white candle at the center of the wreath, symbolizing Jesus Christ, the world’s Light that shines in or guides one’s life amid the darkness and chaos in his/her life.) 

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The four-week season of Advent offers the faithful believers the opportunity to prepare themselves religiously and spiritually for Christ’s coming into the world again. 

What is Advent? The name was adopted from the Latin “advents,” meaning “coming or arrival” of a notable person, thing, or event. For all Christian communities around the world, it’s simply the four-week season of preparation, reflection, and remembrance leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus on Earth on Christmas Day.

For Advent to be meaningful and life-changing for all believers and followers of Jesus Christ, the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, should be considered. 

“Advent reawakens in us the memory of Christ’s historical coming and the expectation of his return. Isaiah addresses people who have passed through a dark period and been subjected to a very difficult trial. But now the time of comfort has come. Sorrow and fear can be replaced with joy, for the Lord himself will guide his people on the way to liberation and salvation … He will in fact, provide unity and security and feed his flock, gather the lost sheep into his sure fold, reserving special attention to the most fragile and weak. This is God’s attitude toward us, his creatures. For this reason, Isaiah invites those who hear him—including us, today—to spread this message of hope: that the Lord consoles us. And to make room for the comfort which comes from the Lord.”

(Amid the current wars between Ukraine and Russia and in the Middle East, particularly the Israel-Palestine conflict, humankind can only hope for peace and justice, healing and reconciliation, during the Advent season, while world leaders continue to negotiate and mediate and (try to) work together to achieve (or maintain) peace and justice around the world, particularly to the aforementioned nations at war and other countries in crisis and conflict.)   

 As the Advent season continues leading up to Christmas, the world clamors for “peace on earth, goodwill to all humanity.” With hope, the whole world anticipates the commemoration and celebration of the arrival or birth of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God (John 1:14) And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us on Christmas Day (as echoed and heralded by the angels in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men”). 

Jesus is the Messiah who brings “peace” on earth and goodwill to men. That’s undeniably the hope of every believer, follower, disciple of Jesus Christ. He is the peace that the world longs for.

In his address to the U.S. Congress in 2015, Pope Francis said, “Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. Our response must be one of hope and healing, of justice and peace. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting peace and the well-being of individuals and of peoples in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.”

What can you and I do during the observance of Advent season? Praying, Scripture reading, Gospel reflection, attending Sunday Mass or going to church, doing simple acts of charity and love, praying the Holy Rosary, and increasing devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (Mother of Jesus and our spiritual mother).

Praying is a good start. It’s a religious and spiritual practice, a good, healthy habit that the faithful and religious leaders like Pope Francis of the Catholic Church advocate. He invites everyone to pray Our Daily Advent Prayer: Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this Advent season, which is Christ himself, whom God our Father has revealed to the entire world. Where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. God alone can save us and free us from the many forms of evil and selfishness in our midst. Let us welcome into our lives God’s mercy, which Jesus Christ has bestowed on us, so that we in turn can show mercy to our brothers and sisters. In this way, we will make peace grow!

May your Advent be blessed and filled with faith, praise and prayer, hope and healing, charity and compassion, justice and peace, love and joy!

Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk and Chesapeake. Email him at chris.a.quilpa@gmail.com.