The Church, our Mother, knows that we need two seasons of discipline.
Lent is for justice. Lent is when the hands of the Divine shake us from our sinful stupor. Lent is for chastisement – a face-to-face encounter with the cost of Love. We hear the Lord’s reproach on Good Friday and feel the full weight of our guilt:
My people, What have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt; but you led your Savior to the Cross.
For forty years I led you safely through the desert,
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to the land of plenty; But you led your Savior to the Cross.
O, My people! What have I done to you that you should testify against me?
Lent is a shock to the system – a call for sinners to wake up and repent.
Advent is for mercy. Advent is for the worn and the weary; those so wounded by sin, so discouraged by the pain of life, that they can barely lift up their heads to see the dawn of a new day. In Advent, we beg Christ to “help us to hope” in His Promise because hope seems so far beyond our grasp. The world lies in darkness and the shadow of death until the dawn from on high – a tiny infant born into poverty – reveals the love of God.
The discipline of Advent is gentle. Christ wipes the tears from our eyes, binds up our wounds and calls us to rejoice. Advent is for trading the weight of our sorrows for the joy of the Savior.