(Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending, sung by the Lichfield Cathedral Choir, with photos of the Lichfield Cathedral in England. The hymn was written by John Wesley and rewritten from the original text by John Cennick.)
Today is the second Sunday in Advent in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. The readings for Mass today in lectionary can be found here. The focus of this Sunday is on waiting for the return of the Lord in glory, something for which the faithful should ever be hopeful. As St. John the Baptist confidently announced the arrival of Jesus the Messiah, so too we can in confidence await the Return of Christ, who provides us with comfort and strength, baptizing us, as the Gospel reading announces, "with the Holy Spirit." It is in the gift of the Holy Spirit that Christians find their hope, a hope which comes not from themselves but from God.
And what is the purpose of the Advent season but to remind believers of the hope which comes to us in Christ, the Messiah who was born as a child to bring the promise of redemption to a lost and hurting world? As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) has pointed out:
Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.