Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered; as a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, article 39).
Advent and Lent are often seen as similar seasons. They share the same liturgical colour and are seasons of preparation for major joyous seasons of the year.
Yet they are quite different. Lent has two focuses – the baptismal focus that comes to fulfillment in the Easter celebrations, and the focus on repentance. Sometimes we can tend to assume that both Lent and Advent are about sin, confession and penance.
The quote from the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar above, written in 1969, reminds us that Advent is not about sin and penance. It is a season of “devout and joyful expectation”.
The season of Advent calls us to be active in our preparation for the celebration and for the return of Christ at the end of time. The scriptures over the coming weeks challenge us to ensure that our lives reflect this active preparation.