The first candle represents the role of the prophets, for centuries before Jesus’ birth, promising that a Saviour would be born who would transform the world.
As the first reading from Jeremiah states, “I will make a virtuous branch grow for David, who shall practise honesty and integrity.” These two virtues would be instrumental in the work of the Messiah who was to come. This reading, and the sense of hope that Advent brings to these weeks before Christmas, call us to give expression to honesty and integrity in every dimension of our daily lives.
I was reminded of this when I attended the White Ribbon Day Breakfast in the packed Starlight Room at Wests Leagues Club on Wednesday morning. If ever the values of honesty and integrity are required in our society, it is in the action of men who terrorise the women and children in their lives through violence and fear.
As I listened to the stories of domestic violence, told by a survivor of such violence and a brother of a victim, the call for all men to act with integrity in their relationships with women and children was profound. All the men present were asked to stand and pledge an oath which stated, “I will stand up, speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.” They did so in strong voices.
As we prepare for the birth of Jesus, it is our prayer and our hope that honesty and integrity in our relationships will mean that the instances of domestic violence will be greatly reduced in the coming weeks and months.
In Isaiah’s prophecy, the Messiah would be a child born to us, who would be called the Prince of Peace, whose dominion would be vast and forever peaceful. We pray that the peace of Jesus will reign in all relationships, during this time of Advent and throughout the feast of Christmas, and always.