The Advent Embrace

by Fr. David Lenz, OFM Conv.

Traditionally, we begin our “Advent count-down” to celebrate Christmas with the lighting of the purple candles on the advent wreath. We wait with expectation and excited hope to complete our candle-lit wreath, so as to celebrate the arrival of the Savior into our fractured world. This Advent we might reflect as well on another return and the ‘waiting’ as told in a story by Jesus: The return of the Prodigal Son, and the waiting of a loving father. As Jesus told the story, when the father sees his burdened and hungry son approaching home, he runs to greet him with outstretched arms, embracing his way-ward son! What great joy for the father – that he hosts an elaborate banquet and feast for all! The happiness of the father knows no bounds for his son has returned – the one he thought might be lost. But now that he returns, and admits his sinfulness, the father celebrates with unrestricted jubilation.

Might we not consider this Advent season as an opportunity to place ourselves in the arms of our heavenly father and experience His lavish love, in the sacrament of reconciliation?

Many of our parishes will hold “reconciliation services” this Advent as a preparation for the Christmas feast. Let us not delay, but prepare for the Christmas feast by immersing ourselves in His reconciling arms!

Come Lord Jesus! Your Franciscan Friars continue to be the ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ in parishes, shrines, and retreat centers: – welcoming home, with unbound love and compassion to celebrate the love of the Father, who waits with hope and love our return. Do not delay – as he is waiting, with only a few more purple candles to be lit!

May this time of Advent-waiting be a ‘watershed’ of grace and reconciliation for you this December. And the best news is His outstretched arms always await us in the sacrament of reconciliation.

May you enjoy and celebrate often this grace and love in the days ahead. Eagerly, He waits to embrace us once again!