Rejoice: Arrival of our Savior brings hope, love and light

| December 18, 2014
Archbishop John Nienstedt visits with Tim McNeil (from left), Mary Anne McNeil and Peter Schumacher, parishioners of St. John the Baptist in Dayton following Mass, which the archbishop concelebrated with the pastor, Father Xavier Thelakkatt. Photo courtesy Phil Dahlheimer

Archbishop John Nienstedt visits with Tim McNeil (from left), Mary Anne McNeil and Peter Schumacher, parishioners of St. John the Baptist in Dayton following Mass, which the archbishop concelebrated with the pastor, Father Xavier Thelakkatt. Photo courtesy Phil Dahlheimer

“O Come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!”

One of the reasons I love the Christmas season is its music. As you know, I like to sing, but what truly moves me is the rhythm and cadence of the notes and the power of the words; these really touch my heart when I listen to Christmas songs. I like to include music in the Mass, sometimes in prayer, sometimes even in my homily, because the chords and chorus join in unity, as our voices together rise up as one to give honor and praise to God.

Advent, the beginning of the Church year honoring the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, carries with it a message and promise of hope, and love, and light. The first candle in the Advent wreath represents hope. Our hope comes from God, who is faithful to his promises to us. The second candle is the candle of preparation. Isaiah says:

“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation” (Luke 3: 4-6).

The pink candle reminds us of joy, the same joy the angels sang to the shepherds when Jesus was born in a manger. The final candle represents love: God so loved the world that he sent his only Son.

However, hope, love and light only come to us through our pain and suffering. We cannot have hope without feeling hopeless at some point in our lives. We cannot feel love without knowing the feeling of loneliness, discrimination or being hated. We cannot recognize light without knowing what it’s like to be surrounded in darkness.

Like the carol “Oh come, oh come Emmanuel”, is there something holding you captive? Is it addiction? A broken marriage? A troubled relationship? Discrimination? Unemployment? Emotional or physical abuse? Envy or jealousy? Something that was said or done to you in the past? Feeling like no one is recognizing your value at work, at home or in life?

As descendants of Adam, we are all broken, and here I include myself. You and I make mistakes. We are sinners. We hold on to hurt rather than let it go so as to embrace the power and love of Jesus Christ. Our Gospel readings during these four weeks of Advent before Christmas challenge us to lean into the suffering we feel in our daily lives, and then recognize the arrival of our Savior, conceived by a young virgin who was chosen by God to be the mother of his Son.

The arrival of Jesus on earth should show us that there is hope in times of despair, love in times of loneliness and anger, and light in times of darkness.

I encourage you to spend the remaining days before Christmas Day celebrating the sacraments. If it’s been a while since you have been to confession, go and share what has held you captive before the Lord and allow yourself the feeling of being forgiven of your sins. Perhaps come to Mass a little early or stay after Mass has ended, but spend a few minutes in prayer, asking the Lord to help you with what is keeping you from Him. Read about the saints and learn how they overcame their own sins and endured their own suffering to grow closer to Christ.

Please know of my prayers for you and your families during this Advent season. May you have a blessed Advent, a joy-filled Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

May God bless you!

 

¡Alégrate! La llegada de nuestro Salvador, nos trae esperanza, amor y luz

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Category: Only Jesus

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