By Kristin Molitor
The darkest days of December have enveloped us, but today, one week before the winter solstice, the small, flickering pink Advent candle reminds us to rejoice. It’s as if Holy Mother Church is saying to us, “I know the days are dark, and getting darker. But have no fear. Press in. The darkness will break. The light will come. And you will have joy. Overwhelming joy.”
If we’re honest, I think many of us would admit that it’s not always easy to believe those words. Can we really be asked to rejoice after a year that brought so many trials and challenges? Is it possible to find joy amid pain, tragedy, and heartbreak?
Each year the rose-colored, “rejoice” candle is lit during the Advent darkness. Each year we are called to rejoice in the darkness – to rejoice in our darkness – because it is precisely there where we can encounter God.
But aren’t we all a little afraid of the dark? Wouldn’t we all rather lunge towards the Christmas light? Wouldn’t we instead distract ourselves with bright bulbs, glee, and glimmer? Wouldn’t we rather pretend that there isn’t any darkness at all?
The darkness can be scary, but If we bypass it, we will never truly know the everlasting, ever guiding, ever-present—Light of Christ.
The Church year begins in the darkness of Advent. In Advent, we begin again to tell the story of our salvation — the story of our need, our pain, our darkness, and God’s gracious response. It’s a story that begins in darkness and ends in Resurrection light.
Jesus Comes in the Darkness
Advent darkness teaches us that we never have to be afraid of the dark. In the darkness, heroic faith is born, and it is in the darkness of night that the Christ child comes and reveals to us the tenderness of God.
And as we gently press the Christ Child to our heart in the stillness of the night, we learn that some of our most intimate and tender moments with God can only happen in the dark.
In Advent, we learn that we can rejoice in the darkness because each time we cry, “Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus,” He always, and without fail, comes and reveals his face as one of understanding and compassion.
Advent teaches us to rejoice because God doesn’t just come. He stays. Jesus, Emmanuel, is indeed, “God with us,” always with us.
The baby that will come in our darkest hour will reveal the Father’s heart, and we will rejoice because it is safe to trust. In the darkness of our pain and suffering, God comes. And when God comes, pain and suffering are transformed into labor pains that birth unshakeable hope in each of our hearts.
The Goodness of God
The mystery of Advent reminds us that God is faithful and that light will always triumph over darkness. Not only does God “come through” for us, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 422) states that by sending His own Beloved Son, God acted far beyond all expectations.
In all things and in every circumstance, let us heed the words of St. Paul in today’s second reading and rejoice and give thanks. Let’s entrust our lives to God, who will act far beyond all our expectations in the fullness of time.
About the author:
Kristin Molitor currently serves as the New Evangelization Coordinator for the central Minnesota catholic parishes of Bowlus, Holdingford, and St. Wendel.