First Sunday of Advent
December 2-3, 2018
Advent provides us a new beginning!
From Fr. Anthony Ligato
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
New and improved; We hear that so often in advertising that we don’t even pay attention any longer. Because what we have found out is that new and improved usually means that some product has been repackaged and given a new advertising campaign, but the product is no different than it was before. A company or Ad agency can get away with that a few times but eventually people get wise and see that the only things that have changed is the packaging has gotten smaller and the price has gone up. As Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” If you are offering something new, it better be truly new, or you will drive people away.
Advent means a new beginning, when something new will replace that which currently exists. That was the meaning in the early Church and the word Advent as well as its meaning came from the pagan culture. The word Adventus was used to describe how pagans understood divinity. They believed divinity manifested itself anew each year in the Roman temple, dedicated to divinity, and this divinity was called Adventus. In its imperial sense it would describe the coming of the Roman emperor, who was thought to be a god. The early Christian Church was good at taking Roman traditions and culture and giving it new meaning. So, they cooped the word Adventus and applied it to the coming of the Lord. Adventus became the word to describe the season of preparation for the leading up to celebrating The ChristmasEpiphany feasts. The Church did the same thing when it replaced the Feast of the Pagan Sun god with the celebration of the Birth of the Son of God, which became known as Christmas.
Advent doesn’t simply offer something new and improved; it is truly a new beginning. That new beginning comes in two ways for us, with the birth of Christ and Christ’s second coming. Christ’s birth did not usher in an improvement of what existed but rather recreated humanity in the image and likeness that God had originally intended. Through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection for which we are baptized into, we are reborn. This promise is made by God through the prophet Jeremiah 33:1416, “I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot.” Through the prophets, God gives us his promise of a new beginning, not just an improvement on what existed; a total recreation. As the Church today, let us embrace what Advent means, a new beginning, and let us take a page from the book of the early church, not letting modern culture influence us, but us influencing modern culture. We have something that is not just an improvement on what existed but rather we offer people a new start, a recreation, to be born again! So, let us prepare the world as the prophets of the Old Testament did by not only announcing God’s promise of a new shoot from the root of Jesse, but that that shoot has grown, and the promise has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus our Lord and in our living out the new beginning we have all received.
Yours in Christ,