On this last day of the liturgical year, let us look forward to the New Year and the start of Advent. This season speaks to the heart of who we are, we are a pilgrim people. “Adventus” in Latin means “coming” and is related to the Greek word “parousia”, which usually refers to the second coming of Christ. We know that during the 4th and 5th centuries, that Advent was a time of preparation for those to be baptized on Epiphany. By the 6th century, the Christians in Rome saw Advent as a season of preparation for the parousia. The historical coming wasn’t emphasized all that much. Only in the Middle Ages was Advent explicitly remembering the first appearance of Christ. So, Advent became a season of preparation for remembering His first coming in that stable in Bethlehem and also His coming in glory at the end of time.
Advent always starts on a Sunday and there are 4 Sundays in the season. The length of Advent, then varies between 28 days, like this year, and 22 days, like next year. The readings for the first two Sundays are more about Christ’s final appearance, while the last two Sundays draw attention to His historical first coming. So, there is a careful balance between remembering a historical event and looking forward in anticipation to Christ’s second coming. It is a season of hope. Come, Lord Jesus! Come quickly!