From the Desk of Father Davis
If you can believe it, it’s already the third Sunday of Advent! We call it Gaudete Sunday. It’s time to get excited and to feel the love, to feel the joy. The readings this weekend underscore the exciting momentum of the season and the enthusiasm and joy Christians feel at this time of the year, when they realize what God has done in salvation history, what he has done in their personal regard, and what the Lord is doing again for the world as the anniversary of the Nativity soon dawns.
Three candles on the Advent wreath are now illuminated. Light is growing week by week. This holy season invites the worshipping assembly to leave darkness and despair behind. There’s too much to live for. God has acted decisively in history. He comes to us in mystery. And he will come again in glory. We must now live in the light of the Lord! Why we would we ever want to live in the darkness? God has given us far too many reasons for confidence and hope.
In the light of God’s plan for a world redeemed and in view of the future dawning of the Christ event, Zephaniah, the prophet, tells us to “shout for joy!” He describes in the first reading how judgment has been removed; enemies are vanquished. There’s now nothing to fear. God is in your midst. “Sing as at a festival!” It’s an amazing reading; an inspiring message! It’s surely meant to evoke hope, confidence and excitement about what is to come. The Psalmist echoes this sentiment, when he says, “the Lord is near; rejoice!” Saint Paul’s words likewise exhort us to live as a people filled with such knowledge. Rejoicing is not just a future phenomenon to be awaited. Indeed, the invitation is to be a people of joy right now. Not that we be a people of artificial giddiness or of a make believe happy face, or emoji. Rather, we can be a people of living hope and acknowledgment in the action of God in the present moment. Luke rounds out this teaching by encouraging us to live as those gathered like “choice wheat” into the barns of the Lord. Don’t we realize how truly special we are in the eyes of God? In all the universe his plans and designs are beyond compare! Such grace-filled knowledge will surely change the way we live. Our lives will then take on great confidence. Our spiritual self-esteem will soar. Our motivating joy, given us by the knowledge of the action of God, will propel us to live in the light of the Lord. Let’s rejoice at the prospect! It’s within our grasp by the grace of Christ. Gaudete!
My recent trip to the Holy Land, again, inspired in our pilgrims insights into the historical action of God. The travelers saw with their own eyes where the story took place. Spiritual connections were made. The narrative story came to life. Among the places we visited was Ein Karem, the city of the birth of John the Baptist. We reverenced the marker which identified the spot of his birth. He was the great precursor of the Lord Jesus. John was the one who baptized him in the River Jordan, launching him into his public ministry. It was at Christ’s Baptism that John pointed out the identity of Jesus, as the One who would baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit, bringing life and light into the world. Jesus is our ultimate hope.
We also visited Bethlehem, where we celebrated a Christmas Mass in November. On that occasion we sang “Silent Night” there. It’s Christmas Day every day in Bethlehem! For this reason, we eagerly reverenced the spot of Jesus’ birth at the Manger, preserved directly underneath the high altar of the Basilica of the Nativity. Who among us was not moved to tears at the realization of Christmas becoming so palpable?
Yes! It’s time to rejoice, my friends. Let go of the darkness. And live in the light! Gaudete!