Advent is a season of light. It is a time in which the light of Christ shines forth into our lives and onto our world, and we receive a great gift: 'to us a child is born, to us a Son is given' (Isa. 9:6). In John's Gospel, Christ says of himself: 'I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness' (John 12:46).
The season of Advent has its roots in the pagan festival of the winter solstice. The word 'solstice' is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). The pagan world hungered for light and worshipped the sun god Sol Invictus, who was invoked each day at sunrise. As bright and as powerful as the sun is, we know it cannot cast its light on the greatest mysteries of our existence or penetrate the darkness of sin and death. The prophet Isaiah declared hundreds of years before the birth of Christ: 'The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined' (Isa. 9:2). Advent then is an opportunity for us to come into this light, see with the light of Christ and walk our pilgrim way such that we let our light shine.
Advent literally means 'coming' and the Church has always sought to remind us during this holy season of the three comings of Christ: his first at his birth, his second at his return to earth in glory, and his third when he comes into each of our lives. The work of the Spirit in our lives is twofold: he compels us to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father, and he also moves us to pray with heartfelt longing, 'Come, Lord Jesus, come.'
Jesus is the meaning of Christmas. He is the meaning of human existence. The baby born in the stable, in poverty and helplessness as God made man, is our light and hope. We lift up our hearts in praise and thanksgiving for Jesus who is the Light of the World, the light which darkness could not extinguish or overcome.
Lord Jesus, in this Advent season we invite your light into our lives and come ourselves into the light so that by the grace of repentance and a deeper conversion we may walk as children of the light.