"Let us cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." (Romans 13:12)
Last night I was sitting in my hotel room on the Jersey side of the Hudson River saying my first Advent prayers. Just across the river from our hotel proudly stands One World Trade Center or what some call the Freedom Tower. It was lit up with construction lights as it's in still in the process of being completed, but it was impressive nonetheless. Last year I saw half of the skeletal structure, now it is almost complete. I couldn't help but draw parallels between the Freedom Tower and the season of Advent that we begin today. There on that sacred ground, unspeakable darkness overshadowed lower Manhattan and our nation for most of the last decade. Now the tower stands strong, as a testament to the determination and persistence of New Yorkers and all of us as Americans. That tower is a reminder that evil deeds cannot define us a nation, and that where evil once triumphed, light now shines. The World Trade Center now shines with all it's buildings around those two hallowed footprints, and soon a proud city and nation will dedicate One World Trade Center as a beacon of freedom, light and hope
As Christians, we begin this Advent season of light and hope longing for Christ in our lives. As St. Paul tells the Romans, we must cast off all darkness, the darkness of sin, and clothe ourselves with the armor of light. This light is Christ. We carry with us the hope of his coming. We set our sights high, as Isaiah says, on the highest mountain. And God indeed wants us to set our sights high. Let us cast off excuses to live lives of holiness. Let us put aside lives of sin and depravity (St. Paul goes into great detail of what type of sins we must discard in the second reading) and dare to walk in Christ's marvelous light. Do not be deceived by the allure of sin or by the need to go back to Christ with the same wounds,
This week, when I began to read Pope Francis' new Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), he gives a beautiful message in his seond paragraph that in my eyes is tailor made for Advent:
Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. (EG 2)
Do not be afraid to repeat this prayer that the Holy Father gifted us with over and over again during this Advent season. God doesn't mind how often we seek his forgiveness. So arise, my brothers and sisters. Now is the time to return to Christ and set our sights on nothing less than holiness. Arise, "let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:5)" and leave the ash heap of darkness behind. Do not be afraid.