This week begins with “Gaudete Sunday”. Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. It comes from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon on Sunday. This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath which is rose coloured.
The second part of Advent begins on December 17th each year – this year in 2010, it is Friday of the 3rd week of Advent. For the last eight days before Christmas the plan of the readings changes. The first readings are still from the prophecies, but now the gospels are from the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. We read the stories of faithful women and men who prepared the way for our salvation. We enter into the story of how Jesus’ life began. These stories are filled with hints of what his life will mean for us. Faith and generosity overcome impossibility. Poverty and persecution reveal glory.
We prepare this week by feeling the joy. We move through this week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand. And so we conscioulsy ask
“Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow.”
Each morning in that brief moment we are becoming accustomed to, we want to light the third inner candle. Three candles, going from expectation, to longing, to joy. They represent our inner preparation or inner perspective. In this world of conflict and division, greed and lust for power, we begin each day this week with a sense of liberating joy. Perhaps we can breathe deeply and say,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.”
Each day this week, we will continue to go through our everyday life but we will experience the difference our faith can bring to it. We are confident that the grace we ask for will be given us. We will enounter sin in our own hearts and in our experience of the sin of the world. We can pause in those moments and feel the joy of the words,
“You are to name him JESUS because he will save his people from their sins”. Mtt. 1:21
We may experience the Light shining into the dark places of our lives and showing us patterns of sinfulness and inviting us to experience God’s mercy and inviting us to experience God’s mercy and healing. Perhaps we wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week. We may want to make gestures of reconciliation with a loved one, relative, friend or associate. With more light and joy, it is easier to say that we are sorry and ready to begin again.
Each night this week we want to pause in gratitude. Whatever the day has brought no matter how busy it has been, we can stop, before we fall asleep, to give thanks for a little more light, a little more freedom to walk by that light, in joy.
Our celebration of the coming of our Saviour in history is opening us up to his coming to us this year and preparing us to await his coming in Glory.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come and visit your people.
We await your coming. Come O Lord.