Photo illustration by Phil Younk
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Pink candle reminds us ‘Lord is near’

Based on Zep 3:14-18a; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18

“Shout for joy!” “Rejoice.” “The Lord is near!”

On this Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday – Gaudete meaning “rejoice”), the readings from Zephaniah and St. Paul call for joy and gladness for God’s help, guidance and presence in every circumstance.

Three candles are lit on the Advent wreath. This Sunday’s candle is pink as a joyful sign that Christmas is near. The priest wears pink or rose-colored vestments as these are colors of dawn, reminding us that Jesus, the Light of the World, is about to brighten our world – just like dawn brightens the sky as night becomes day.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist continues to shake up the people with his strong sermons. They ask, “What should we do to get ready for Jesus’ coming?”

John tells them to be generous by giving food and clothing to the poor, to be fair and honest in everything they do and to be happy with what they have. John also says he is baptizing with water but “one mightier than I will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Those baptisms in the Jordan River were a sign of people’s willingness to change their sinful ways. Jesus came to earth not only to save us from our sins, but also to call us to a new way of living with him. Baptism fills us with the Holy Spirit and calls us, as children of God, to be other-centered in Christ – to see, choose and act as Jesus does.

Many people are in need – unemployed, homeless, hungry, sad and lonely, brokenhearted, sick and dying. We must reach out to them.
Pope Francis has proclaimed this a Year of Mercy. The Holy Father is calling us to reach out to everyone with the goodness, tenderness and love of God. He asks us especially to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy – charitable deeds by which we help our neighbors.

The corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead.

The spiritual works of mercy: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, correct the sinner, comfort the afflicted, forgive wrongs, bear wrongs patiently and pray for the living and the dead.

As you prepare for Christmas, ask your parents and grandparents to help you share some of what you have with people who have so little.