We are now in the holy season of Advent where we prepare for both the coming of Christ at Christmas and the second coming at the end of time. It is a spiritual period in which to meditate on these two mysteries and prepare for them. We use the wreath and 4 candles to mark down the 4 weeks before Christmas.
Three of the candles are purple and one is pink. The purple symbolizes preparation through penance and prayer. Purple is also used during Lent. Another way to see it is purple is a physical sign of healing. When we get hurt, the injury becomes purple. During the time of healing, it remains purple until it clears up. Sin hurts us and we need time to heal from it by using the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, Prayer, Fasting, Indulgences and a genuine Spiritual life.
The pink is for the third Sunday or Gaudete Sunday which means “Sunday of Joy.” We are joyous because we are getting closer to Christ’s birth. As each week goes, we light the candle that corresponds to that week.
Today's readings remind us that the plan of salvation has always been in progress. In the first reading, we read of the shoot from the stump of Jesse which will blossom. God's spirit will rest on Him (Luke 4:18). He will not judge by appearance nor by gossip (Jeremiah 17:10, 1 Samuel 16:7). This root will be a just judge and will impose justice. He will bring peace. The cow and bear will be friends, in other words, there will be peace among enemies (Isaiah 11:6). The root of Jesse is, of course, Jesus the Lord. Jesus will come to make all things new. He will restore the universe to its true glory by purging out sin and the devil as well as those in league with him (Revelation 20:10). Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world (John 3:16). In Advent, we prepare for both His second coming any days now and His first one 2,000 plus years ago, liturgically. We take this time to prepare because Christ can come at any time (1 Thessalonians 5:2). He can come today, tomorrow or any day. No one knows the day or hour (Matthew 24:36). Our task is to be prepared for that day and help others prepare by evangelizing them and being good Christian examples. Justice will flourish when Christ returns, as we read in the responsorial Psalm for today. Christ will rescue those who are oppressed.
We see so much evil in the world. Kids are neglected, people are suffering due to the greed of others. Innocent unborn children are killed cold-heartedly in the womb via abortion. Our youth is being perverted by bad ideas. I can go on and on, but you reading this know very well how bad things are on this beautiful earth. From outer space, the earth looks glorious and beautiful. Yet, on the ground, it can be extremely ugly and nasty. Many people lose hope because of this. This is because of sin. Sin has ruined life on earth (Genesis 6:11, Ecclesiastes 7:20). However, sin will not have the final say. It will not gloat in victory (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Christ will return and destroy it once and for all. His name will be blessed forever. Under Christ, both Jew and Gentile will come together praising Him as we read in the second reading. This is the Catholic (Universal) Church with members of all genders, races, ethnicities and so on. We must live in harmony with one another and be one voice glorifying the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We must welcome one another, especially the "heavy sinner" who is trying his or her best to make things right with him or herself and God. Judgment is not ours to give, but to God. All of us have sinned, except Jesus and His Mother Mary. This is why we have to repent and remember that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Many will be called, only a few will be chosen (Matthew 22:14). This means many of us will be in hell for eternity. This may be hard to accept, but if we look at the world and see how evil seems to be winning, we can see how Christ's statement is valid. Our repentance must be sincere. We know that it is when we see the fruit it has bore. Like John the Baptist, we must suffer and make amends for our sins. We must wear the "camel's hair" that reminds us of our mortality and need for God. We must allow discomfort in this world to remind us of the comfort of Jesus when He returns and in heaven. Jesus is coming. Let us be prepared by repenting and truly living our Catholic faith the way Christ expects us to. Come Lord Come!
Here are some thoughts from our saints and scholars:
John’s appeal therefore goes further and deeper than a lifestyle of moderation: it calls for inner conversion, based on the individual’s recognition and confession of his or her sin. While we are preparing for Christmas, it is important that we reenter ourselves and make a sincere examination of our life. Let us permit ourselves to be illuminated by a ray of light that shines from Bethlehem, the light of the One who is “the Mightiest” who made himself lowly, “the Strongest” who made himself weak.
(BENEDICT XVI. ANGELUS Sunday, 4 December 2011.http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/angelus/2011/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ang_20111204.html)
("Fragment 12," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 41.)
Camel's hair is mentioned not merely circumstantially but in a mystery and as a type. The camel is counted neither as strictly one of the unclean beasts nor as strictly one of the clean, but it occupies a middle position and partakes of the characteristics of both. For to chew the cud, that is, to bring up again the food after it has been swallowed and direct it forward to be ground by the teeth, is proper to the clean animals. This pertains to the camel. But not to part the hoof is a feature of the unclean beasts. The camel's foot is not divided, given that its nails meet together.
Therefore, on this account, John was clothed with the hairs of this animal, demonstrating the call of the gospel. He showed that the kingdom of God, which John declared was at hand, was going to accept both those who were from Israel, the clean people, and those from the unclean Gentiles. To both of these he preached repentance without any distinction.
— Bishop Theodore of Mopsuestia
He advises them to "bring forth fruit that matches repentance" and not to boast that they have Abraham as their father, for God is able to raise up children to Abraham out of stones. Indeed, succession to Abraham in the flesh is not required, but the inheritance of Abraham's faith. In this context, dignity of origin consists in examples of works. The glory of one's race lies in the imitation of faith. The devil was faithless, but Abraham was faithful. The devil was treacherous in his treatment of humanity, whereas Abraham was justified by faith. Therefore the very life and character of each person is acquired by a close relationship, so that those who are faithful to Abraham are his posterity in faith. But those who are unfaithful are changed into the devil's offspring by their unfaithfulness.
— St. Hilary of Poitiers
("On Matthew 2.3," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1-13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 44-45.)
He did not merely say that the axe was barely "touching the root" but "laid to the root"—it is poised right next to it and shows no sign of delay. Yet even while bringing the axe so near, he makes its cutting depend upon you. For if you turn around and become better persons, this axe will be laid aside without doing any harm. But if you continue in the same ways, it will tear up the tree by the roots.
So note well that the axe is neither removed from the root nor too quickly applied to cut the root. He did not want you to become passive, yet he wanted to let you know that it is possible even in a short time to be changed and saved. He first heightened their fear in order to fully awaken them and press them on to repentance.
— St. John Chrysostom
("The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 11.3," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 45.)
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