Today we mark a transition in the Advent season. Pink breaks through, lightening the purple penitential season of Advent. Tomorrow we remember St. Lucy, patron saint of eyesight. With her we celebrate light and clear vision, for the Lord’s coming. In the center of it all, the Church places are focus on St. John the Baptist.
St. John provides the perfect crossroad between rejoicing and penance. Most of our images of St. John focus on the hairy, wild man of the desert, pronouncing stern warnings as he baptized at the Jordan River. But don’t forget he was also the babe in St. Elizabeth’s womb who leapt when the Blessed Mother came to visit. St. John the Baptist is known as the patron saint of spiritual joy.
We too are called to leap for joy today. Our Advent Confession should leave our spirits lighter. We are not afraid to meet Our Lord when He comes. Instead, we rejoice to welcome Him. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10) With an unclean heart we cringe, and plead for more time to get ready. With a clean heart it is easy to say, “bring it on — I’m ready to meet the Lord!” Such is our hope.
John the Baptist’s life was focused on preparing the way of the Lord. When that work was done, St. John reminded us: He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30) So it is for us: We must decrease or focus on ourselves so we can allow the Lord to live through us. We must surrender our selfish wills and become one with the Body of Christ.
And the next step is obvious: To take God’s love and share it. “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” We are “the least,” as are all those around us, waiting for our love.
Another way of explaining that same conversion is to reference images of darkness and life. Sin darkens our souls. Accumulated sins darken our spirits. And the more stuck we get in our sins the further we are from ‘getting it’ about the urgent call to repentance. A protracted state of sin softens our awareness. It’s very easy to come up with excuses: “well, I’m not as bad as….,” “well I’ve never done anything too bad…,” “what I did is minor compared to…” We lose clarity as we lose communion with God.
St. Lucy’s feast day reminds us of the light coming in the darkest season, and that we too will “come into the light” someday. Scandinavians celebrate St. Lucia day amidst the long dark winter. A young woman wears a wreath of candles, and brings the family sweet buns and hot coffee. She brings light to the dark. She brings sweetness to the suffering. She brings warmth in the cold. She brings Christ to “the least of these.”
Don some pink today. Change your Christmas wreath’s bow to pink. Light the pink Advent candle. Notice the priest wearing pink today. Pink is a lighter shade of red, mixed with white. Red is the symbol of Christ’s blood. White is the symbol of purity. White-robed angels appeared in the empty tomb on Easter morning. White-robed angels appeared at the Ascension as well. Christ’s blood preceded this. Mix the blood of the cross with the white of purity, and we get salvation. Pink signifies that we’re halfway there.
Tomorrow, for St. Lucy’s feast day, surprise your family with candles and sweet treats for breakfast. Rejoice, for the Lord – the Light of the World — will come – soon.