At Mass on the third Sunday of Advent, the rose coloured candle is lit and the priest may wear rose vestments. The change of colour and the joyful message of the liturgy indicate that the coming of the Messiah is drawing near – prompting us to prepare with expectant hearts to welcome the child Jesus with love and joy.

What shall I do in these final Advent days? Will I rejoice, “shout for joy” and exalt with all my heart  as the message of the prophet Zephaniah suggests in today’s First Reading? How well have I prepared to welcome the Messiah? Have I made time to quieten my mind in order to prepare the way?

Receiving a gift usually brings us joy and the gift of faith is not unlike any other gift – we can use it or leave it aside. Consider the example of young children opening their Christmas presents. Imagine their wonder and awe, their sense of joy and gratitude. Children have a natural dependency on others and respond with openness, simplicity and trust in forming relationships with those closest to them.  We ought to adopt the psyche of little children as we wait and prepare to welcome the child Jesus this Christmas.

The people to whom John the Baptist preached were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and wondered whether John himself could be the Christ. We too can rejoice and recognise Christ who comes eagerly to meet us.  The prophet Zephaniah has already anticipated Christian joy – “He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you”.

In my prayer today, I acknowledge God’s loving presence in my life, and consider what I can do this week to help prepare the way for Jesus. I thank Yahweh for guiding me on this Advent journey and pray that I may be ready to welcome the child Jesus into my heart and into my home on Christmas day. Amen.

(PM 2012)