Today is Gaudete Sunday! We light the pink candle on the Advent wreath and take to heart the message of joy.

Why are we joyful? Because our salvation is near. Because we are sons and daughters of God. Because it’s no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us.

It’s a busy, stressful time for many of us, and hey- that’s OK! Let’s not get stressed about being stressed during Advent. That would be counterproductive. It was stressful for Mary and Joseph, too: the pregnancy, the last-minute traveling…. but surely they found peace in the middle of all the hustle and bustle because they both knew they were doing God’s will.

So let’s live the presence of God as best as we can. As we look for and wrap those presents let’s keep in mind what we are going to offer our Lord on Christmas day. What little sacrifice, or what virtue are we especially trying to live? Let’s take a few minutes throughout the day and bring our minds back to the Nativity. Let the symbols of the season really sink in: the wood of the Cross in the Christmas tree; Jesus, the light of the World in all the candles and sparkling lights, and the model of selfless love, humility and abandonment that is the crèche.

Fr. Malcolm Kennedy’s words really helped me drive the message home. Here’s my paraphrase:

God teaches us to abandon ourselves completely. Look at where the Christ child was born: in a lowly manger. The Nativity scene speaks to us of unconditional self-giving. No one keeps anything for himself.  St. Joseph risked his honor and peaceful future in taking Mary into his home. His entire life was one of ready availability for God’s will. Mary’s was the same from the moment of her fiat, her unconditional yes to Our Lord. Our Lord chose to reveal himself to men as an infant in need of everything. How approachable is Our Lord. Let’s continue preparing for Christmas by contemplating those figures in the crèche. Let’s allow them to provoke in us holy and effective resolutions.

“Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.'”  –Luke 2:10-14