DECEMBER 5, 2021

A poet wrote: 
‘when I am an old woman I shall wear purple
to remind her that life can be different day by day or that she might be personally noticed and change her life.
This time of the year the Church wears purple and we remind ourselves that Jesus is near, that life can be different and that we can change our lives.

The gospel from John the Baptist encourages a change in our lives. We would look on ourselves and regret what we should regret – our sins, our meanness, our minor faults and failings, our injustices and hurt of others. In his time the people would immerse themselves in the river and be forgiven. We can immerse ourselves in the healing and forgiving love of God in many ways, including the sacrament of reconciliation (penance, confession). We can immerse ourselves in the mood of waiting for Christmas, and take this on the spiritual level and well as the ordinary.

All of the weeks of Advent can be a preparation for the way of the Lord, which we will hear of during the readings of the coming year. This is a time of joyful waiting, knowing we cannot be let down. The purple of Advent is not the purple of mourning but of joyful anticipation – like when we dress in the football team’s colours early in the morning to look forward to a match.

If we take time for the spiritual preparation with some prayer, sacraments (maybe go to Mass once or twice a week, or daily for Advent), and if we help our neighbour a bit more than usual, then nothing of all the preparations can be just secular. Everything of this month can remind us of God… trees, lights, carols, parties, Santa hats, cards, gift-buying – big reminders that God is near.

Give us this day our daily bread and daily truth, Lord God.

Donal Neary SJ