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Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle B

12 December 2011

One of the most beautiful things about the liturgical year is the lovely way the Church ties all the mysteries of faith together.  This is especially poignant with the feasts that point to the Nativity.  For all kinds of interesting reasons that may have their roots in the earliest  Christian understanding of time, the celebration of  the birth of Jesus was placed right smack at the Winter Solstice.  Why?  Perhaps to counter the pagan festival of Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun), which worshiped the sun as it dimmed to the shortest day and longest night. The Roman Emperor (who, by the way, liked to be addressed as Son of God) purposely celebrated his birthday at the exact same time.

So he thinks he’s the Invincible Sun?  Let’s place the feast of the Nativity at the Winter Solstice too, to celebrate the birth of the true Son of God.

Also, the ancient date of the Annunciation to Mary (and the conception of Jesus) –which may have even preceded the date for Christmas−−was set around the vernal equinox (March 25th), which of course was a perfect nine months before December 25th.

But it’s the date chosen for the birth of John the Baptist that I think is the most beautiful of all.  If Jesus was born at the Winter Solstice, when the sun gradually begins to increase, then John would be born at the Summer Solstice, when the sun’s power gradually decreases.

That I may decrease, and He may increase. The Baptist’s prayer whispers to us still, in the dark Advent night.

What do you like best about Advent?

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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Advent - Cycle B

One Comments to “Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle B”

  1. Advent gives us the opportunity to retreat from the busy-ness of everyone’s preparations for Christmas. If we take it seriously, Advent can help us not get wrapped up (no pun intended) in the part of Christmas that has been taken over by commercial enterprise. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can stand back and not get ensnared by what everyone wants for Christmas. Advent allows me to focus on the coming birth of Christ and celebrate his presence in the world instead of meaningless presents under a lighted tree.

    While my neighbors’ houses are all decked out in tributes to Santa and elves and reindeer prancing on their lawns, I have an Advent wreath on my front door. On Friday, I will place a table in my front window with a spotlight shining on an empty manger. Over the following nine days, the angel will appear, the shepherds and their sheep will come, the animals will be added to the stable. Mary and Joseph will be there early on Christmas Eve, and Christ will be added early Christmas morning. Of course, the Magi and their camels will have to wait until Epiphany

    It is the quiet waiting and the simplicity of Advent that I enjoy.

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