Today is known traditionally as Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete, i.e. Rejoice). It marks the third Sunday of Advent. The third candle, usually for the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally Pink or Rose, and symbolizes Joy at the soon advent of the Christ. It marks a shift from the more solemn tone of the first two Sundays of Advent that focus on Preparation and Hope, to a more joyous atmosphere of anticipation and expectancy. Sometimes the colours of the sanctuary and vestments are also changed to Rose for this Sunday. This theme of joy reminds us to persevere for the advent of Christ.

I recall the following story about a toddler throwing a furious tantrum from the seat of a grocery cart. The mother was unfazed and said calmly "You may as well give up on the crying," as if she were soothing her to bed instead of leading her out of the store. "It won't work. You are stuck with me for 18 years." That little child may not know how lucky she is to be stuck with her for 18 years. Even when she is cranky, out of sorts or otherwise going through a phase, her mother will be there. She is stuck with her. Most relationships that truly matter are built on that kind of sticking-power. And not everyone has someone they can always count on to stick around.

People will leave relationships for any number of reasons. And sometimes we should put certain relationships behind us. Not every friendship or romance has a healthy future. Sometimes we bring along so many destructive problems and behaviours that a happy relationship has no chance of long-term survival. Sometimes addictions make staying in a relationship impossible. Sometimes leaving is necessary.

However, there is also a time to stick around. Something all relationships of many years have in common is this: every one of them is made up of people who have had plenty of opportunities to quit, to move out or to move on, but they stuck around. Maybe because they knew that the people they love are not always "lovable" or easy to be with but they exercise patience and understanding.

Well Advent forces us to look at our spiritual relationship and make such decisions. Not only Advent but I suspect there will be plenty of other times our relationship will be tested. I also suspect that every time it goes through a rough patch and survives some sort of adversity, every time we decide that serving God is important enough to stick it out and fix what is wrong, then it will change. Maybe not much, but a little. And in time, little by little, that relationship, the togetherness, will become a thing of beauty; a pearl of great value. And definitely worth sticking around for.

Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes