Gaudete in Domino semper” – Philippians 4:4,5

My mother loved apple pie long before I was born. She developed her passion for it while working in the USA as a young nurse back in the 60s, and later on embarked on a life-time quest of the best apple pie – either baking it or trying it in different restaurants. I inherited her strength, but my quest is for the perfect chocolate ice cream instead of Mommy’s apple pie. Sadly, I did not inherit her patience or humility, but wanted to honour her continuing presence within me by baking apple pie the other day.

I rejoice in the simplicity, celebrate the complexities of flavours, not just of apple pie, but of life in general. I had a discussion with a friend the other day about Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas has been buried so deep beneath the materialism that many have lost sight of the solemnity of the feast. Fundamentally, Christmas is a solemn feast, and not a festival, and we have lost our way between the meaning of these two words. Gift giving during Christmas is not about the literal gold, frankincense and myrrh, but coming home to the spiritual anchor, divesting ourselves from the trappings of material wealth and political power, rising above the poverty and shortcomings and being humbled as equals before God. 

Take away all the festivities and lights, the shopping and the markets and gifts, and what must remains is the original, God-centered and faith-inspired solemnity. Rejoice in the simplicity, find strength in the patience. 

The Third Sunday of Advent in the Liturgical Calendar is Gaudate Sunday. The theme of today’s liturgy is Rejoice! a powerful reminder that takes on a difference meaning for me now that I live in Europe again. In the midst of all the grey, cold, misery, loneliness and homesickness, there are many reasons to rejoice in the simplicity, find strength in the patience and be grateful for what I have. 

As I look back on the year that was, the 12 months of hardship, challenges, frustration, and being completely lost, I can certainly identify with today’s Gospel reading of John The Baptist reminding the faithful to be patient, for greater things are yet to come, but before that we must cross the desert. The year that was 2018 was most certainly my desert year, wandering in search of direction and a safe haven. I am certainly not out of it yet, and sometimes wonder if I ever will be, but faith sustains me, and patience pulls me through. Everything else is hard work combined with blood, sweat and tears.