From the Pastor’s Desk: December 14, 2014
This Third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” because on
this day the Church reflects upon Christian Joy.
We get the title “Gaudete” from the
Latin word for “rejoice” in St. Paul’s letter.
He tells us in the second reading
today, “Rejoice always… this is God’s will for you.”
Elsewhere he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say,
Rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). On this “Gaudete”
Sunday, the priest uses rose vestments and we light a rose candle on the
Advent wreath because of an ancient color scheme that signified joy.
The reason why the church has us
focus on joy as we approach the celebration of Christmas is because the
Church wants to prepare us to erupt with joy as we celebrate one of the
most important events in the history of the world.
Today as we have passed the midpoint of Advent, the focus of our prayer shifts – from the end times to the approaching solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. Today we are encouraged to continue our spiritual preparation for the birth of Jesus with the tremendous opportunities offered in our parish in the form of our Advent Parish Mission. It is with true joy that I invite you to welcome Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. who will lead us in the spiritual exercises of the Mission. In these days of preparation and opportunities of spiritual growth and nourishment leading up to the feast of our Savior's Birth, we are reminded of the joy that is to come, and serves amid our daily difficulties and struggles, as a kind of 'break' when we recall the hope we have because of the coming of Jesus.
However, the joy of the Gospel is not just any joy. It consists in knowing one is welcomed and loved by God. As the Prophet Isaiah reminds us today (cf. 35:1-6a, 8a, 10), God is he who comes to save us and who seeks to help, especially those who are fearful of heart. His coming among us strengthens us, makes us steadfast, gives us courage, makes the desert and the steppe rejoice and blossom; that is, when our lives becomes arid. And when do our lives become arid? When they lack the water of God’s Word and his Spirit of love. However great our limitations and dismay, we are not allowed to be sluggish and vacillating when faced with difficulty and our own weakness. On the contrary, we are invited to strengthen the weak hands, to make firm the feeble knees, to be strong and to fear not, because our God always shows us the greatness of his mercy. He gives us the strength to go forward. He is always with us in order to help us to go forward. He is a God who loves us so very much, he loves us and that is why he is with us, to help us, to strengthen us, help us go forward. Courage! Always forward! Thanks to his help, we can always begin again. How? Begin again from scratch. Someone might say to me: “No, Father, I did so many reprehensible things ... I am a great sinner.... I cannot begin from scratch!”. You are wrong! You can begin from scratch! Why? Because he is waiting for you, he is close to you, he loves you, he is merciful, he forgives you, he gives you the strength to begin again from scratch! Everybody! And so we are able to open our eyes again, to overcome sadness and mourning to strike up a new song. And this true joy remains even amid trial, even amid suffering, for it is not a superficial joy; because it permeates the depths of the person who entrusts himself to the Lord and confides in him.
Christian joy, like hope, is founded on God’s fidelity, on the certainty that he always keeps his promises. The Prophet Isaiah exhorts those who have lost their way and have lost heart to entrust themselves to the faithfulness of the Lord, for his salvation will not delay in bursting into their lives. All those who have encountered Jesus along the way experience a serenity and joy in their hearts which nothing and no one can take away. Our joy is Jesus Christ, his faithful love is inexhaustible! Therefore, when a Christian becomes sad, it means that he has distanced himself from Jesus. But then we must not leave him alone! We should pray for him, and make him feel the warmth of the community.
Pope Francis, Angelus, December 16, 2013
Why- with all the good things the Lord gives us- are we so often sad…so joyless? A Christian who is not joyful is an oxymoron. If we are not joyful, we make the good news a lie. It is my prayer that the gift of this Parish Mission will allow us to realize the joy of life in one another, our faith, in Jesus as our companion in life, in the Holy Spirit to guide us, and Father in heaven who cares. Rejoice, therefore, the Lord is near! Rejoice, the Lord is here! Rejoice, here with us is the Lord Jesus!
I pray to see your active participation in the Advent Mission and the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Wednesday at 7:00pm.