December 2 is the day the Catholic Church began a new season on the liturgical calendar. James Chimpweya asked Bishop Joseph Zuza, chairperson for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, to explain The Season of Advent.
What is the Season of Advent in the Catholic Church?
The church has several seasons and the first one is Advent. This season is a door that opens a new year of liturgy. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus. This word means arrival or approach. In short, the Season of Advent is a preparation for the birth of Baby Jesus at Christmas. But now a look around shows Christmas is here already. Look at the frenzy and excitement among people. Many shops have been decorated already with Christmas colours and objects. And shoppers are listening to carols already.
How important is Christmas to Christians?
As Christians, we believe that Christmas is a very big and important time. Thus, it needs adequate preparation spiritually and physically. It was for this reason that the Season of Advent was inserted into the calendar. Advent is a season of deep reflection, penance and meditation. It is a time of spiritual rebirth. That is why the colour of this season is purple. This is the colour that symbolises sombreness and remorse. Through the incarnation, God took the initiative to take a step towards human beings. Through the incarnation, God showed humility.
Through the incarnation, God lived among people. It is this spirit of humility that Christians have to imitate.
Why do Christians believe in Jesus Christ and observe the Advent Season?
Following the invitation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XV1, in celebrating the Year of Faith, let us reflect on the Creed and especially when we say, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.” During the Advent, I invite you to reflect on this and see what it means for you and humanity as a whole.
Looking at the Malawi of today, one would see that we are slowly getting immersed into a world of consumerism i.e. a culture of buying things. This has not spared preparation for Christmas as well. Now as the four weeks of Advent go by, Christians should take time off their busy programmes to reflect deeply about their personal relationship with God and fellow people.
As Christians celebrate Christmas, what should they focus on?
A Christian must do deeper soul-searching, and this will lead to remorse for their weaknesses. At the end, there must be repentance and making amends. There cannot be Advent without change in our life. This is the heart of Advent.
On behalf of the whole Episcopal Conference of Malawi, let me wish you a fruitful period of preparation, as we wait for the birth of Jesus Christ. A good preparation in the Season of Advent will give us a Christmas full of meaning.