The Holy Season of Advent is captured perfectly in one of the popular hymns: “O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appears. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes for us the Advent spiritually beautifully: “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease”.
If the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, humbled himself so much as to assume fully our human nature, do we realize what it means to be human? Do we realize and truly believe that all of us were created in God’s image and likeness? When you and I look at the face of any human being – regardless of his race, gender, age, colour, religion, health, education, social or economic status et cetera – do we see the face of our brother and sister?
In a country that is still marred by the scourge of inequality, discrimination, rape, xenophobia, unemployment, poverty, corruption, crime, violence and lack of meaningful transformation in all sectors of society, it is good for us to be honest with God and ourselves as Catholics and a local Church.
In what way have I celebrated the Jubilee Year of Mercy?
Am I reconciled with God and others?
What graces have I received from God?
What were my resolutions for the past Liturgical Year?
Have I fulfilled anyone of them?
Advent and Christmas in this Liturgical Year A dedicated to the Gospel of St Mark calls for introspection, thorough examination of conscience as individuals and as a community followed by inner conversion of mind and heart to God and to the values of his Kingdom.
With those words, I wish all of you a joyful and fruitful celebration of Advent and Christmas season!
Bishop Vincent Mduduzi Zungu OFM
Mary is honoured as the Chief Patron of our Diocese of Port Elizabeth. In accordance with the official liturgical Pastoral Guide it is therefore elevated to a solemnity (big feast) for the local church and celebrated on the Sunday that occurs on 4th February or between the 4th and 10th February each year.