Hope and Peace: the first two Sundays of Advent.
In this season of Advent, most of the Mass readings will be focused on God’s promise to send a savior. The first Sunday of Advent is the “prophet’s Sunday,” and the first purple candle is the candle of hope. God promised to send a savior when He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. His prophets proclaimed the coming of the Messiah over the next four thousand years.
If you are not familiar with Isaiah’s writings describing who the Messiah will be, you’re about to be! Most of our Masses over the next several weeks will feature his book in the Bible. Isaiah wrote extensively about the Messiah’s ministry. His healing the blind and lame, His speaking in parables, and that He will be hated by many. The first Sunday of advent not only calls us to remember the thousands of years of prophecies proceeding the savior. It also reminds us of something much more important to the Jewish people during their waiting time.
“Hope is the virtue by which we firmly trust that God, who is all-powerful and faithful to His promises, will in His mercy give us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it” (Baltimore Catechism: pg. 65).
Hope is so much more than wanting something and being willing to wait for it. We use this word for things we deeply desire: I hope to have children, I hope to be married. But real hope is the virtue of understanding that God is going to help us obtain Heaven. The Jews waited four thousand years for their savior. They knew they could not reach Heaven without God’s Messiah. I can only imagine they felt hopeless. They must have doubted, at some point, that their savior would come. Yet, for as many of them that hated and condemned Christ, there were more who rejoiced when He came.
With hope, comes peace.
“Peace is the tranquility of order” (Catechism of the Catholic Church: pg. 98). When we can have hope, believing God is merciful, and that we can obtain Heaven, peace is the natural result. The second Sunday of Advent is Bethlehem Sunday, and the second candle is the candle of peace. When Christ was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy to come, He fulfilled the peace. He established order in the world again, after it fell to sin. Peace is achieved by living according to God’s order in our lives. The order for four thousand years was to wait and hope for the savior. Peace was fulfilled when Christ came into the world.
When you light your first two Advent candles, I recommend you say this traditional prayer over them. Unite yourself to the waiting for Christ as we prepare for Christmas.
“Visit this house, O Lord, we beseech you. Bring your spirit of hope and peace upon our family.”