Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
SYMBOLS OF THE SEASON – CANDLE
The candle has long been a symbol of Christ, the Light of the World, even before the observance of Advent. The practice of using a candle to symbolize Christ probably came from the use of light as a metaphor for Jesus in the New Testament. The candle is also a great reminder to us during Advent that a part of our preparation is to spread the light of hope to our world.1
Light the Advent Candle Gospel Reading: Matt. 22:1-14
HOPE IN THE WARNING
The story the Jesus tells in today’s gospel reading is more of a warning than a story. In this season of Advent, we have received an invitation to prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of a King – Jesus. Just like the people in the story, all of us have been invited to this joyous celebration, but the thing is that not everyone will accept the invitation. Others will receive the invitation, store it away, meaning to RSVP, meaning to prepare themselves, but on the day of the celebration, they will find that they have pushed it off for the sake of other things, and when they do arrive, they will not be allowed to stay, because they have not really entered into the meaning of the true celebration of the King.
But Jesus is clear: those that receive the invitation, that prepare themselves and await the King and are ready to celebrate when the time comes, they will be welcomed into the festivities and will be able to fully engage in what a joyful thing it truly is.
This is a hopeful word for us as we prepare ourselves not only to celebrate Jesus’ birth, but as we prepare for His second coming. The good news is that Advent has just begun, and there is time for us to begin now, preparing ourselves, looking forward to Jesus’ presence among us, and becoming His hands and feet of hope to our community in the meantime.
The hope that we have in this warning is that it hasn’t happened yet, and it’s not too late for any of us to prepare ourselves to enter into God’s story, and to prepare ourselves to celebrate in His continued divine plan to bring us back to Him. Let us prepare ourselves, and let us seek Him.
O Christ, our true and only Light, illumine those who sit in night.5
1)Adapted from Paul Sheneman, Illuminate: an Advent Experience. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill of Kansas City, 2011. Print.
5)Adapted from Johann Heerman, “O Christ, Our True and Only Light” (1630), trans. Catherine Winkworth (1858), Cyber Hymnal, http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/o/c/ocotruea.htm.