3rd Sunday of Advent
This Sunday, the second reading will be from Philippians 4:4-7. Be sure to read the other readings for added context.
I wrote last week on how Advent is a time of preparation, and the ways in which we are called to live as though constantly in a state of watchful preparation for the return of our savior and king.
There are many different types of preparation. In Advent, we practice both penitential preparation and joyful preparation. This week, we light the pink candle on our Advent wreaths, the candle which traditionally represents Joy. It is easy in a season that is both preparation and penitential to lose sight of the joy with which we prepare for Christ’s return.
We can never lose sight of the fact that we are an Easter People, even when we take time in our spiritual journeys together to prepare for the time when Christ will come back for us. Pope Francis reminds us for the need for this joy in Evangelii Gaudium 4-6, particularly in the time that we live in - that is, after Christ has come and while we eagerly await his coming.
In the scriptures, we are repeatedly commanded to rejoice in the Lord. This “in the Lord” is significant. According to St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, Joy proceeds from charity (caritas), one of the theological virtues - the love we are to have for God. It is concerned with how we relate to God, not the things that happen to be occurring in our lives right now. We can grieve, and yet have joy. The two can coexist, but the grief doesn’t modify the joy.
This is not to say that we do not fully and honestly grieve when pain and sorrows come our way, but it does not modify our relationship with God. Joy which arises out of charity - and not out of whatever is going on in our lives, is not diminished when sorrows come.
What parts of your life have you held back from God. I know there are some things in my life that I haven’t surrendered fully. Ask God to meet you in those places, so that your joy in him might be more full than it has been, so that you might be more ready to welcome him when he comes back.
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