Homily: Advent through Rose-Colored Glasses

December 12, 2021 – Third Sunday of Advent

Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent. It is what the Church refers to as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for ‘rejoice.’ It points us to the joy of the Advent season.

Certainly, the first two readings are in line with that theme. In the reading from the prophet Zephaniah we heard: Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! He will rejoice over you with gladness and sing joyfully because of you.

We have more of the same in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: Rejoice!

On the First Sunday of Advent, Fr. Francis shared the meaning of each candle of the Advent wreath. The first one was “hope” and the second, “faith.”

Today we lit the third candle – hope, faith, and now – joy.

The candle is pink in color – or liturgically, the color is rose. Father and I are in our rose vestments, which we only have the opportunity to wear twice per year – which is a shame because I’ve been told this color really brings out my eyes. (I’ll let you decide)

I don’t hear the word rose used in reference to a color very often. However, I am familiar with the phrase rose-colored glasses. We hear it said that some people look at life through rose-colored glasses. That means they have an unusually cheerful or optimistic view of things. It is not normally said as a compliment. The gist of the phrase is that such people are not very realistic; their optimism is not valid or is naïve.

For instance, as a boat is sinking, someone wearing rose-colored glasses might say, “It looks like we’re going to have an opportunity to go swimming today!”

So how does all of this connect: Advent, rose, joy?

The words we associate most with Advent are waiting and preparation. I’m not sure I like the use of the word waiting. When I think of waiting, I think of waiting in a doctor’s office, or waiting in the check-out line at the grocery, or waiting in traffic. Isn’t waiting just killing time until something worthwhile or desirable happens?

I get it – during Advent we are waiting for Christmas. However, we are not just killing time!

I prefer to think of Advent as a time of joyful anticipation. We already KNOW what is going to happen on Christmas Day. So, the true joy comes in the anticipation.


When our four children were young, the most joyful part of the “gift-opening experience” of Christmas was what took place in the 14 hours and 15 minutes prior to the actual event.

At 4:00pm on Christmas Eve we went to Mass as a family. After Mass, we went home and enjoyed our famous Christmas Eve nachos. Then, the kids changed into their PJs and it was back in the car to drive around and look at the neighborhood Christmas light displays. Back home, it was time to read Christmas books. Each child chose a book to read aloud. The reading of the books would not be complete without little Ricky entertaining all of us by reading his book using different voices for each of the characters. I always wrapped things up by reading our family’s favorite book, The Golden Snowflake.

Next, it was time to put out cookies and milk for Santa and some carrots outside for the reindeer. Sheets were laid out in front of the fireplace and around the tree so Santa would not track any ashes on the carpet.

By that point, it was time for bed – and, as was the tradition, the boys would pull their mattresses into the girls’ room and they would all sleep in the same room. They were given one walkie-talkie, and I had another. In the morning, they would use their walkie-talkie to call me once they were all awake.

That call usually came about 5:00am, but they weren’t allowed to come out of the room until we opened their door at 6:00. We loved listening to their excited voices coming through the walkie-talkie.

Once I got the call, I went out into the living room and turned on the Christmas lights and some music and made sure everything was ready. Carol grabbed the camera so we could get a picture of their little faces when the door was opened.

The kids would race out and check – and sure enough, there was an empty milk glass and cookie crumbs on the plate. A quick check outside confirmed the carrots were gone as well.

Then, we took a moment to remind the kids why we celebrate Christmas. The real gift of Christmas was the birth of Jesus. We would then add baby Jesus to the nativity set.

Finally, at 6:15am, the opening of gifts began.

We had some goofy traditions, but they were OUR goofy traditions. That time – that 14 hours and 15 minutes – was the definition of joyful anticipation. It’s important to note that these traditions were full of God moments – times when God was tapping us on the shoulder and saying, “Look how blessed you are!”

The giggles from behind the closed door before the kids came out – God moment. The laughter as Ricky read his book – God moment. The smell of Christmas nachos, the excitement of discovering the carrots were gone, the look of fascination on the kids’ faces as baby Jesus was added to the nativity scene, the Christmas music playing softly in the background, – the love in the room – all God moments. Jesus – although we wouldn’t commemorate his birth until Christmas Day – was already there with us through all of the joyful anticipation.

When our grown children get together at Christmas, they don’t share stories about what was in the gifts they opened or reminisce about the bike or X-box that was under the tree. They laugh and talk about the nachos, and Santa’s footprints on the sheets, and sleeping in the same room. Their memories are of the joyful anticipation.

And so it can be – so it should be – with Advent. You need to bring your own joy to the Advent season.

Thomas Merton once said: “…the purpose of Advent is not a matter of waiting for the Lord, but rather of recognizing his presence among us here and now.” (Repeat)

The joy of the Advent season comes from the knowledge he is already here – walking with us, listening to us, loving us.

We can spend our Advent playing the waiting game, killing time until the main event arrives. Or perhaps we can view Advent through rose-colored glasses and experience the joyful anticipation of the season.

Wearing rose-colored glasses in this case is not naïve at all, but informed.

St. Paul was likely wearing such glasses when he wrote to the Philippians: Have no anxiety at all…the peace of Christ will fill your hearts.

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