The candle of the First Sunday of Advent is called the Prophet’s Candle, which symbolizes HOPE. The prophet Isaiah foretold the birth of Christ the Lord: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) This prophecy gave hope to a people who have been longing for a Messiah. For Christians, this prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who came into the world to bring peace and salvation to mankind. The hearts of Christians are full of hope as they await the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
The candle of the Second Sunday of Advent is called the Bethlehem Candle, which symbolizes FAITH. The prophet Micah foretold that Christ the Lord would be born in Bethlehem: “But you, O Bethlehem-Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” (Micah 5:2) This prophecy came to pass when Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem, and it was there that Jesus was born. With the gift of faith, we have come to believe this. In faith, we have come to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The candle of the Third Sunday of Advent, also called Gaudete Sunday, symbolizes JOY. The third candle is called the Shepherd’s Candle. At the birth of Christ the Lord, an angel appeared to the shepherds and said: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12) Their hearts filled with great joy and expectation, the shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. With Christmas fast approaching, the hearts of Christians are also filled with joy and expectation for the birth of Christ our Lord.
The candle of the Fourth Sunday of Advent is called the Angel’s candle, which symbolizes PEACE. At the birth of Christ the Lord, suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14)
At a time when there was a lot of oppression and civil unrest in the Roman province of Judaea, the angels announced the birth of the Messiah to the poor and lowly shepherds. It was a message of peace for those who longed for deliverance from hardship and oppression. But when Christ came, He brought deliverance from a far greater oppression – the bondage of slavery from sin and eternal death.
St. Paul tells the early Christians in Galatia of their new-found freedom in Christ: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7) May the peace of Christ be with you all!