Dear Friends in Jesus Christ…,
Today is called “Gaudete Sunday” because today’s Mass began with the opening antiphon: “Gaudete in Domino semper” –“Rejoice in the Lord always.” Today we light the rose candle and the priest may wear rose vestments, to express our joy in the coming of Jesus, our Savior. Do you remember July 25, 2002, World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada, Pope Saint John Paul II, talking to a half million young people when he said, “I have heard your festive voice, your cries, your songs and I have felt the deep longing that beats within your heart, you want to be happy!?” We all want to be happy. Our desire for happiness underlines all other desires. The Church invites us to be happy and joyful today on this Third Sunday of Advent. Why do we have to be happy and joyful? For Christ our Lord is coming. Jesus said in the gospel, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete” (Jn 15:11). The readings for the Third Sunday of Advent remind us that the coming of Jesus past, present, and future is the reason for our rejoicing. The first reading tells us that we should rejoice because the promised Messiah is coming as our Savior and Liberator, saving us by liberating us from our bondages, “I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.” The Responsorial Psalm of the day is taken from Mary’s Magnificat, in which she exclaims: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Paul, in the second reading, advises us to “Rejoice always” by leading blameless, holy and thankful lives guided by the Holy Spirit, because Christ is faithful to his promise that he will come again to reward us. Today’s Gospel tells us that John the Baptizer came as a witness to testify to the Light, i.e., Jesus. The coming of Jesus, the Light, into the world is cause for rejoicing as he removes darkness from the world. We should be glad and rejoice also because, like John the Baptizer, we too are chosen to bear witness to Christ Jesus, the Light of the world. We are to reflect Jesus’ Light in our lives so that we may radiate it and illuminate the dark lives of those around us. The joyful message of today’s liturgy is clear. The salvation we await with rejoicing will liberate both the individual and the community, and its special focus will be the poor and lowly, not the rich and powerful. Through her ministry in Jesus’ name, Mother Teresa brought untold blessings and joy to the poor who lay unattended and forgotten on our streets. When asked the source of her joy, Mother Teresa replied: “Joy is prayer — joy is strength — joy is love — joy is a net of love…A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love…loving as He loves, helping as He helps, giving as He gives, serving as He serves, rescuing as He rescues, being with Him twenty-four hours, touching Him in His distressing disguise.” Our mission as brothers and sisters of Christ and joyful members of his Church is to reflect Christ’s Light and joy to others, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. It is especially important during the Advent season that we reflect Christ’s love, joy and his unconditional forgiveness. There are too many people who live in darkness and poverty, and who lack real freedom because of their evil addictions and bad choices. There are others who are deafened and blinded by the cheap attractions of the world. Many others feel lonely, unwanted, rejected, and marginalized. Let us bring the true Joy and light of Christ to illumine the lives of all these brothers and sisters during this Advent season through our sharing love, overflowing mercy, unconditional forgiveness and humble service. We will be able to accomplish this witnessing mission of radiating Christ’s Light and joy only by repenting of our sins, asking God’s pardon every day and renewing our lives by our daily prayers…how?…by frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation (*1), by attending and taking part in the Eucharistic celebration, by reading the Bible daily in meditative, prayerful fashion (*2) and by performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
*1 – This Wednesday, December 20th confessions will be heard from 6 – 8 pm.
*2 – A plenary indulgence is granted to those who read with veneration the Word of God for a half hour.
God Bless You,