Fourth Sunday in Advent: Lighting the Angel Candle

Posted by Tom Costanza | December 24, 2017

The fourth candle reminds us that the angels are the messengers of God who, in this case, bring good news. We do have a tradition in our family of gathering around the wreath and praying a small Advent prayer. We would have the four family members, who had passed away, named on the candles and would remember them as we prayed through the weeks. It was short, but a powerful time for our family.

I now live on Annunciation Street in New Orleans. Many streets in New Orleans seem to have this Catholic and biblical heritage. The Gospel story tells us of the Angel Gabriel announcing the good news that Jesus Christ is arriving. Mary says YES. What if she said maybe or let me think about it to the Angel Gabriel?

Tom Costanza lights the fourth candle on the Advent wreath, the Angel Candle.

She did not have all the facts but said yes in an act of faith. When it comes to faith we will never have all the facts but we can rely on Mary’s example. She was full of grace and we need to pray for that grace daily. We continue to be redeemed by the grace of God. Mary was troubled and confused by this news but said yes. Are there possibly times in our lives when are we troubled and confused and when we can rely more on Mary’s example and say YES?

Mary’s example is made concrete when she said I am the handmaid of the Lord. What can we learn from being the handmaid of the Lord? Can we let God mold us in this way and let it be done to us?

The Prince of Peace is coming. The peace that surpasses all our human understanding. The deep peace of Christ that gives us strength in calm, quiet and trust. In our Archdiocese we pray the Family Prayer for Peace every week. We pray for peace in ourselves, our families and in our communities.

I remember when, a few years ago, I was introducing myself as the Director of the Office and Justice and Peace to someone and they said “well you are not doing a good job”. Yes being a peacemaker is a hard job for all of us and we may not always be successful, but we must remain faithful to this work as Mother Theresa would say. As we welcome again Jesus and celebrate his continual new birth in our lives, we pray that we continue to be peacemakers who are open to God’s creative work in our lives.

Tom Costanza is the Division Director over Behavioral Health Ministries, Disaster Services and Justice and Peace.