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Father Chris Wadelton’s Advent homily: "Let’s light this world"

Father Chris Wadelton, pastor at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, gave the following homily at Scecina’s Dec. 5 Mass, the first school Mass of Advent: 

One of the most recognized symbols in this season of Advent is the Advent wreath we’ve got burning up front. When I was little, the Advent wreath seemed like a crude timepiece, counted down from four to three to two to one, when Jesus was coming. But, when I was little, it was Santa Claus,. So I didn’t really care about Jesus. I wanted Santa Claus, and we knew it was the timepiece that got us there. 

There’s a lot of other symbolism wrapped up in our Advent wreath. One of the commentaries says the four candles represent the four thousand years before Christ was born and the darkness of the world. And, as Christ came, the light of the Christ rises from each one of the candles. 

Another commentary says it represents the four weeks of Advent, each week showing the brightness of Christ, the light of Christ coming into the world brighter and brighter. And so we have the four candles. The purple, people sometimes say, represents kind of the bruised-ness of the world. Bruises are often purple or red, so the bruises of the world, because of the sins of the people, are represented in the purple. And the pink represents the joy we have in Christ, So there’s lots of different understandings of the Advent wreath. 

When we put Christ on top of the Advent wreath, Christ comes to us. Christ burns down the candle. If I stood here long enough and held this candle, it would completely melt away. 

But wherever we put Christ, Christ will make it brighter, and if there’s something that needs to go away, it can melt down and disappear, little by little. 

But there’s something important about the Advent wreath. The candles don’t light themselves. Somebody has to strike the match. Somebody has to take the lighter and take the initiative to put the light on top of the candle. And that’s an important part. That’s what we do. In our lives, we are the ones that light the candle and we use that light to light the world. 

In about an hour in Washington, D.C., they’re going to start the funeral for President George H.W. Bush. We've probably been seeing a lot of that on the news lately. A lot of the commentaries about President Bush . .. is a famous line he used called "A Thousand Points of Light." And he used this in his campaign speeches back in the late '80s, and then in his inauguration speech he also used a thousand points of light. 

I wanted to quote what he said in his inaugural speech in 1989, almost 30 years ago. He said America’s never fully herself unless she’s engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It’s to make kinder the face of the nation, and gentler the face of the world. We have work to do. 

He went on to say there are homeless, lost and roaming. There are children that have nothing, no love, no normalcy. There are those who cannot free themselves from enslavement to whatever addiction – drugs, welfare, the demoralization of rules in the slum. And there’s crime to be conquered. There are young women to be helped who are about to become mothers to children they cannot care for and might not even love. They need our care, our guidance and our education, though we bless them for choosing life. 

He spoke of a thousand points of light as a country. He ... envisions America as a thousand points of light, times a thousand, times another thousand, times seven. I think that’s 7 billion, if my numbers are right. That’s the people on this Earth. We are the ones who bring the light to the world. In a world of darkness and sin, it can use all the light it can get. 

So in the Advent season, I want the Advent wreath to be a challenge to you, to be a challenge to strike that match, to light that candle, to become that point of light where you are in your family, in your class, in your school, in your work, wherever you are. Be one of those thousand points of light to light the world. 

Also, thinking about the candle melting down to nothing, if there’s a particular darkness in your life that you need to get rid of, maybe Advent’s a time to do that. Maybe you’re in a relationship that’s not very healthy; bring Christ to there, let Christ get rid of that. Maybe the relationship with your parents has turned dark and cold and maybe nonexistent. Maybe you can put a candle of light there. Let Christ diminish the darkness and bring in the light. Maybe you’re struggling with a certain addiction or maybe you’re drinking on the weekends, or maybe you’re struggling with social media or maybe you’re doing things that you know are wrong but it’s just the thing to do and you’re in the habit of it. Maybe Advent’s the time to put a light on it, to put Christ to bear to help get rid of that. 

The thousand points of light are us. The world needs more light. The world needs people who are going to strike that match, that are going to light the candle to bring light to the darkness. So let that be our challenge today. When you see the Advent wreath, strike a match. Where can Christ use you to be one of those thousand points of light? And let’s light this world. 

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