On Gaudete Sunday, the liturgical colors lightened from the deep purple of Advent to a lovely rose, signaling the coming exultation of this season of silence, of waiting and therefore of patience. Already in the third week of Advent, we have heard repeated variations on the theme of awakening from John the Baptist and also from Christ. He cannot be sensed if we are asleep; cannot be felt or heard if we are not conditioned, better yet, emptied.
In this twenty-first century, where citizens of the world are assaulted by humongous volumes of information, a recent interview with Pope Francis has made headlines. The ever-controversial Pope Francis gets world-wide coverage with his recent metaphorical warning to the media: Fake news is feces. But the scatological allusion is not hyperbole. We witness almost daily the contagious nature of negativity, rumor, even lies in this culture where every text and tweet is fashioned for urgency and guaranteed to maintain a state of persistent distraction. No wonder Pope Francis makes use of such colorful language.
When we consider the notion of wakefulness we think first of two states: Awake or asleep. After just a moment of reflection, we understand our error. Awake or asleep… is far too crude, far too simple a distinction. We’re each at varying stages of wakefulness each minute, each month, each year. Most traditions teach that becoming ever more awake is the work of our lives. Each of us must resolve intimate psychic wounds, fears, regrets, losses in order to perceive reality and truth. Demanding, painful work which can be done only in silence, solitude with a determination to combat distractions.
Advent is the time for just such work. In the Christian liturgy, the change from the somber, contemplative purple to rose conveys the meaning of the word gaudete: rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.
We Christians are given these annual seasons of Advent to slow us down once again, not to get to the state we were before, no: To go even further than the last time ever increasing our capacity for Him-Truth. Perhaps this year we can see Him in all of our works, failures, disappointments- in the sunsets and in the dirty socks; know that He is there in all of those places and more, so much more.
That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him….
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.