Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoice! The Lord is Coming!

The 3rd Sunday in Advent was called Gaudete Sunday: the Latin word “Gaudete” meaning “Rejoice.”  We are more than halfway through Advent.  Carols are heard daily.

Do you know the story behind “The Twelve Days of Christmas?”

For some two centuries, Catholics in England could not practice their faith openly.

So someone wrote “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as a kind of statement about Catholic belief.  The carol has two levels of meaning.

The Partridge in a pear tree is Christ.
The two turtle doves are the New and Old Testaments.
The three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
The five golden rings refer to the Torah or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
Seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Spirit.
The eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes.
Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the spirit.
The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
Eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
John the Baptist
And the 12 drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of belief in the Apostles Creed.

So, if you are singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” you might test your religious education, or the education of children or grandchildren.

John the baptist immersed people as a sign of cleansing from old ways so that they could live in fidelity to God’s covenant.  He proclaimed what the prophet Micah begged the Hebrews to do centuries before: do what is right, love goodness, walk humbly with God.

John inspires and challenges us to be heralds of Jesus in our families, our workplaces and our communities by the manner in which we live.  We are called to prepare the way of the Lord so that he can enter into the hearts of our fellow human beings, so that through our own heart the grace and favor of God can empower others to “do what is right, love goodness and walk humbly with your God.”

There’s no better place to start preparing the way of the Lord than in our own families.

During these Advent days, try to create a better sense of togetherness, of closeness and care for one another. Keep in touch. Participate in special events.  Communicate; share the good news as well as bad news; keep your word and thereby build up trust.

Second, strengthen family life. There are so many activities that can divide a family: activities all valuable in themselves, but if not checked, can rob families of time together.  

And finally, help children become the persons God created them to be.  The purpose of family is to provide a secure and loving environment, until they become mature enough to venture out on their own as responsible persons.

And then we as family will be even better able to welcome  the Christ child into our hearts at Christmas.

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