The third week of Advent the Church lights up the Rose candle.^1
Also, during this Gaudete, or Rejoice, Sunday we have readings that are meant to have us feel and be full of Joy. This years readings, year C, start with Zephaniah who was a "prophet of doom." However, in the reading chosen for this Sunday, Zephaniah 3:14-18 we read him saying, "Shout for Joy!" So, even a doomy guy can tell us to shout for Joy. Therefore, we should all be able to at least look for some silver lining in doomy situations. Go read Zephaniah. It's a really short read.
^1 It's not a pink candle. As one priest pointed out to me a few years ago. Men don't wear pink, liturgically it's rose.
Hope and Peace!
During the first two weeks of Advent the Church calls us to Hope and Peace. During the readings of the first week we are called to remember that our Hope is in God and that in a short while, Christmas, our Hope will become actualized, fully alive in the person of Jesus. He is the answer to all things we Hope for. During the Bible study last week the homework assignment was simple: Smile more, because it's contagious and also makes one feel better about oneself, and the second assignment was to to do more by doing less. By doing less during this season of Advent, we can do more spiritual activity. We can allow ourselves to Hope in Christ, give Him our fears and look to him for Hope.
This coming weeks readings the Church has us, with Hope in our pocket, turn to Peace.
St. John the Baptist is brought up and his call to repent and that his voice is calling out in the desert to bring the mountains down, fill in the valleys, and make the crocked ways straight. When we examine what the Baptist preached through the eye of Peace that the Church is having us view these reading through, then we see that the way to peace is by turning from sin. Send our bad habits on an exile, or out to the desert. Bring down the mountains of materialism that has such a grip on us in our country and especially during this Advent season. Materialism has stolen Advent from us, taken what should be a time of reflection filled with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love; and turned it into a stressful time of "getting everything up" or "going to all the parties" or "buying all the toys" ..........etc., etc., etc.
So, how do we get OUR season back from the World?
We need to slow ourselves down.; try not to keep up with those around us. Focus on our Family more. Ask ourselves questions like: What do our kids really need? Why do I feel like I need to go to this party? Do I need to be at this party for a long time or a short time? Is it better for our family to slowly set up decorations to build up the excitement of Jesus' coming? What do I need to repent from that will bring me Peace? How has materialism crept into my family and how can I let Jesus in to kick materialism out?
These are just a few questions we can ask ourselves. We can ask ourselves more. Also, each is a loaded question. I strongly advise you to not try and tackle all these questions during one Advent. It can seem overwhelming if you do. Remember that each of us are unique and Jesus is meeting us on the path wherever we are and will walk with us. He will make the way straight. His way is filled with Peace.
Allow Peace in.