"Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God,” so said the French Jesuit, Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. This Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday. It is a time that the Church calls us to rejoice and celebrate God’s presence even in the midst of this Advent Season of waiting.
This third Sunday of Advent is all about joy in the midst of darkness. As we wait the coming of Christ, we light a cheerful rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath as a reminder that our waiting is not in vain. The Sunday gets its name -- "gaudete," which means "rejoice" -- from the introit to to day's Mass: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say,
These words come from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, which he wrote from prison. St. Paul was no naïve optimist, and he obviously knew real suffering. Despite the intense suffering of his imprisonment, St. Paul was joyful. Joy appears 17 times in various forms throughout the short letter.
“Gaudete" is the word's imperative form. We are commanded to rejoice against the headlines of violence, war and suffering. We so even if we might not truly feel like rejoicing. Gaudete Sunday is a glimpse of the joy that comes at Christmas.
The joy we anticipate today is the birth of our Messiah on Christmas Day. On Christmas, God’s light and peace dispelled the darkness of sin and evil. Our faith, hope and love are stronger than any doubt, despair or hatred we encounter in our lives or in our world. The birth of our Savior is coming so let us begin to “Rejoice!”
We rejoice this Sunday as we gather in Mercy Park for the Bambinelli Blessing. This Italian tradition of bringing the Baby Jesus figures from the crèche to be blessed by the Pope is here at OLM. So please join us on Sunday after the 9:00am Mass as we gather to sing and pray and truly rejoice at the birth of the Christ Child on Christmas.
We can also rejoice after going to Confession this week in time to prepare for Christmas. On Monday night, December 18th, there are two hours of Confessions scheduled from 6:00pm until 8:00pm here at OLM with two priests available for both hours of Confessions. Also there are two priests scheduled for Saturday, December 23rd, for Confessions from 3:00pm until 3:45pm. No matter the season there is truly no better way to find real joy as we receive God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession. Come to confession this week and then be able to truly rejoice on Christmas in the love and mercy of God.
We can also rejoice by helping the poor and needy. Perhaps consider buying an extra-gift card at Stop & Shop while getting the Christmas cookie supplies or an extra gift card at Walmart when going to find replacement lights for the tree this week. OLM Outreach is always in great need of these gift cards. Simple acts of charity bring great joy. Try it and you’ll be rejoicing this Christmas with the Christ Child who was born poor.
We can also rejoice by dropping by to visit the long neglected neighbor, calling the old friend we haven’t spoken to in awhile or by forgiving a family member who has hurt us in some way. Then we can rejoice on Christmas in the love of the Christ Child.
We can also rejoice in offering an encouraging word of appreciation rather than a biting comment and cynical criticism or co-workers, friends and family. So forgo the cynical comments and sarcastic remarks instead try true gratitude as it always leads to joy at Christmas.
We can also rejoice by stopping in OLM Church and spending some time in prayer with the Lord. We are truly blessed at OLM as our Church is open all day. So make some time this week to reflect on the true meaning of the season. On the way to the market, the Post Office, the liquor store or the mall, carve a few minutes out to visit the Lord, truly present in the tabernacle. Stop, pray and rejoice with the Lord this week and the celebration of his birth will be all the more joyful!
Joy truly is the “infallible sign of the presence of God.” So let us begin the rejoicing today in word and deed. This late Advent time is a time to live the joy we anticipate at Christmas. We live it in prayer with Lord, the Sacraments, and our good works. Rejoice!
Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!!