"Repairing the Road to our Hearts"

December 16, 2018

Happy Gaudete Sunday! Today is Rejoice Sunday and is symbolized by the pink third candle on the Advent Wreath.

I was recently asked, “Why do we have a pink candle?” Long ago, both Advent and Lent were 5 weeks long and emphasized penance. The Church decided to give penitents a break in the middle of their penance observance, which was the third Sunday. Both Jesus’ birth and resurrection at the ends of Advent and Lent are cause for great rejoicing, so the Church wants people to look forward with expectant hearts filled with great joy to meet God at the end. The focus is not on adopting a depressing mood while doing penance but on meeting God. Our penance expresses our desire to prepare for this meeting. Thus, we have the pink candle on this Third Sunday of Advent.

During Advent we need to strike a balance between focusing too much on doing penance and focusing too much on holiday partying and celebrations. We need to prayerfully prepare yet joyfully anticipate our meeting with God. “God is with us” but our attention tends to be elsewhere!

Last Sunday’s Scripture readings reminds us why repentance is necessary in this joyful season. We are given the image of the road – prepare the way of the Lord. The road becomes unlevel and rough after years of use. In this condition, the road speed is slow. God will be delayed in coming because the road condition does not allow Him to come quickly. Therefore, people must “repair” the road in order for God to come. “Repairing the road to our hearts” is repentance, which we do joyfully in welcoming God into our lives. Luke’s Gospel on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception shows us that the moment Mary said yes to God, His Presence appeared immediately!

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas! If you are traveling, I pray for your safe travels and a wonderful time with your family. If you are in town, please invite your family members and friends, especially those who may not have darkened the door of the Church in a while, to join us celebrating one of the greatest mysteries of our faith, the Incarnation, God becomes flesh in the person of Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Kathryn Richards