Christmas this year falls on a Monday, which means the shortest possible Advent. We still get three full weeks; only the last week of Advent gets shortened. Sometimes different words get associated with the four weeks. Let’s see what these four words can teach us.
Hope — The Christian virtue of hope is about much more than just a positive feeling. It is rooted in a confidence that God is with us, that he always has been with us, and he always will be with us. He will never abandon us. We can look back on our lives and remember the many dark times when God brought light and new life. Why would our present distress be any different? In the midst of a dark and scary world, we light the candle of Hope.
Peace — What robs us of our peace is not so much the death of a loved one, job loss, busyness, economic uncertainty, discouraging news stories, or the weight of responsibilities. It is thinking that I have to do it, I have to figure it out, I have to make it work and I’m just not able to. When we remember that God is with us, we also realize that we can let him do the heavy lifting. I just need to do my small part well. That realization allows me to light the candle of peace.
Joy — Joy isn’t something you find, make, or keep; it’s something that finds you. As you go about your day doing the small part that God asks of you, you will find joy bubbling up. It comes from the answered prayers, the moments of love, and the flashes of gratitude. We light the third candle, the pink one, with the realization that God has even greater joys planned for us.
Love — This week is the shortest of all. Fortunately, the theme of love continues to fill our whole Christmas season. Though Advent was short, we can still celebrate a full Christmas season. Plan to return to church again for the Holy Day of Mary, the Mother of God on Jan. 1. Bless your home with blessed chalk on Epiphany,
Jan. 6 (the 12th day of Christmas). Keep at least a few decorations up all the way to Feb. 2, the Feast of the Presentation. Let the Love of Baby Jesus keep glowing in your heart.
God did not make us for darkness but rather for His light. May this Advent and Christmas fill us with hope, peace, joy, and love!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Joel Sember