Autumn leaves can be breathtaking in their explosion of wild colors. Somehow, falling leaves in Autumn remind me of the Advent hymn Rorate Coeli:
Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down the Just One.
We have sinned and are become as one that is unclean:
and we have all fallen as a leaf,
and our iniquities like the wind have carried us away:
thou hast hidden thy face from us,
and hast crushed us in the hold of our iniquity.
Advent and the fall season remind us of our iniquity and the evil that lives within us. We are all in need of salvation. Advent is waiting for the coming of our Savior; just as Autumn is waiting for winter to come and usher in spring. Sinful as we are, we are in need of forgiveness.
The Second Sunday of Advent is about John the Baptist, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins to prepare the way for the coming Savior. Jesus would later preach about God’s forgiveness. He reveals God as the God of second chances, as the Prodigal Father who welcomes back His prodigal son even after he has squandered his inheritance in a dissolute life. Jesus would also challenge His followers to forgive, not only seven times but seventy times seven.
The world today is in need of forgiveness. And we also need to forgive one another. There is so much evil and much of it comes from a vicious cycle of greed, hatred, anger and selfishness. Everyone who get offended demands his pound of flesh in retribution. The seeking for retribution, in a corrupted sense of justice, would ask eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Even the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you has been bastardized into the immoral practice of a preemptive strike: do unto others before they do unto you.
It is never easy to forgive. And some find it impossible to forgive. They nurture hurts and they nourish their hatred. The bile and the vitriol fester and then give rise to even greater offenses. The cycle of hatred and violence in many parts of he world often goes back for centuries because people would not forgive nor forget. In some places this anger and hate go back for millennia.
But there are people who have learned to forgive. They bring out the best in us. They show us that forgiveness is a sign of strength and not of weakness. Forgiveness is the ultimate sign and test of true love. Be it among peoples or between two loved ones. We are in need of forgiveness. God offers us unlimited forgiveness. In return, He desires that we also forgiveness does who offend us. This is the hope that Advent brings.