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Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Advent


My dear Friends

I hope you have had a wonderful first week of Advent!

As we are about to light the second Advent candle, may I give you a quick recap on the first? Last week, I spoke about the meaning of Advent. Do you remember...’Adventus/Arrival...Ad- venire...motion toward Jesus birth, and our preparation Day by Day, by seeing him more clearly, loving him more dearly, following him more nearly. It finished with that beautiful reflection from Teilhard de Chardin.

During this week, I received a text message from my sister Ann. It contained a little Advent video in which the four Advent Candles were engaged in dialogue with each other. However, pervading negativity eventually extinguished and silenced the candles’ lights and messages. At this point, Hope stepped in and resolutely restored both the message and the light.

Did you know that each Advent Candle has a name and special symbolism? The first Advent candle we lit last week is often referred to as the Prophet’s Candle (Isaiah waiting in HOPE for our Saviour). Today, the Second Sunday of Advent we light the second candle, which is the symbol of FAITH. The candle’s name has its origins in the prophet Micah who prophesied Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. It is referred to as the Bethlehem Candle. I shall explain the other three, Shepherd’s Candle (Joy), Angel (Peace), and Christ’s (Light) candles as we come to them!

For me, the source of the HOPE, FAITH, JOY, PEACE and LIGHT, symbolised in these candles, is in the wreath! There is a word in Hebrew which encompasses a love, a faithfulness, a loyalty, a compassion, a tender mercy, a forgiveness, a healing which is so wide, so deep, and so eternal, that it virtually defies description! It is used to express God’s love for us, and our loving response to Him. The Hebrew word is hesed ( ֶד ֶסח ) ! For me, hesed IS the wreath for Advent! A circle of God’s endless love, and loving, which can flow into us, and through us, so that we can become that hope, faith, joy, peace and light to him, and to others in our world!

Each one of us is like a candle on that Advent wreath, Hesed! We are grounded in, rooted in, connected with, an unfathomable source of endless love, gentle mercy, boundless compassion, healing, forgiveness, inspiring hope, granite faith, joy, peace and light. Hesed connects us to those four Advent candles in dialogue with each other! As feelings and actions are fused together in hesed, our faith and action can light the flame of Hope in the hearts of others as we all struggle with the challenges of Covid19. Hesed is the self-sacrifice, gentle mercy and compassion, of faithfully responding to the often, unspoken needs of others. It is the unsung heroes and heroines who quietly attend to the needs of parents, children, and

neighbours. Hesed is the word of gentle mercy, forgiveness and compassion in the reconciling phone call. God’s hesed is mirrored in our lives and hearts when our embracing words and loving, mercy-filled actions fuse into one.

And so, my dear friends, as we light the second Advent candle, remember, it is not just a ‘nice festive, season’s ritual’! It is a symbolic reconnecting to the hesed, the never-ending circle/wreath of God’s gentle mercy, faithfulness, and love for each one of us.

Remember me as loving you.

Fr. Antony

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