Prepare to rejoice

The single rose-colored candle may look like a mistake to one unfamiliar with an advent wreath, but there is a reason for the bit of lightness against the purple. Amid the longest nights of the year (at least for the northern hemisphere), the three lit candles are powerfully strong with the rose candle reflecting the light from the other two and adding its own. This mirrors what has been happening within us. We reflected on the Word of God, sought out reconciliation with Him and tried to make level the uneven roads in our hearts. Our burdens have been lightened as we have helped to ease others of their burdens. We are radiating the light of Christ through our actions during this advent season.

This week we prepare to rejoice in Jesus’ coming. Since we know the outcome, it’s very easy to simplify the Christmas story but Mary and Joseph could only trust in God as Jesus’ birth approached. When doors were closed to them, they were humble enough to stay in a stable with the animals, just to keep warm and have a place for Mary to give birth. Those aren’t the conditions they would have chosen, but their humility was rewarded with the unexpected visits of the shepherds and the three wise men who came to pay homage to the baby.  It reminds us in this season of parties and gift-giving, that even if all does not go the way we plan, if we humbly allow God to work in and through us, He will bring us joy.

I read a post on last year about it being harder to believe that God humbled Himself, not just to become human, but to be born a helpless, defenseless babe, than it was to accept the death and resurrection of Jesus. I had to stop and think about that one. Since most people will have encountered a baby or two during their lifetime, we can all relate to the complete dependence of infants. Words fail to express the wonderment and awe of the sacrifice involved when God humbled Himself to enter the world just like the rest of us, but in such poor conditions.

In the Prayer of St. Francis, “it is in giving that we receive” sums up the whole Christmas season. Humbling and giving of ourselves is how we can prepare to receive and appreciate the gift of joy.


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