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Be Grounded in Faith as we Rejoice that He is Near

This Gaudete Sunday calls us to rejoice because the Lord is near. Does your heart rejoice and sing, or are the pressures and burdens of life weighing you down? We can easily become overwhelmed. The weaknesses and sins of life, indeed our own weakness and sin, eat away at the joy and hope God wants us to know. Those who are grounded in their faith and possess deep spiritual lives know that God is near. Realizing this puts life into perspective. We really want to be free from our burdens but do not always know how to achieve this. We keep stumbling and falling. Advent is a time when we can learn to “do life differently,” just like John the Baptist instructed the crowds. Joy and hope are the gifts God offers, not anxiety and despair.

Gaudete Sunday–Rejoice

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Every third Sunday of Advent, the Church rejoices. This is known as “Gaudete Sunday”, which uses the Latin word for “rejoicing”. But, we’re still in the season of Advent, a penitential season. We are still in preparation for the coming of the Lord. In this way, the Lord is not here. Why are we rejoicing? Because “the Lord is near”.

My brother and his family are rejoicing because my nephew Ryan, their oldest child, is returning home for Christmas break soon after spending almost the entire semester at college. They are so happy that his return home is near. So many people will have the exciting experience of picking someone up from the airport for the holidays that they haven’t seen for so long. One of the best examples, though, of rejoicing at the nearness of someone’s arrival is a new baby. Of course, that is what we do at Christmas: welcome the baby Jesus. Waiting for a new baby might be the preeminent experience of being excited for someone’s near arrival. To use a phrase from today’s Gospel (Luke 3), we are “filled with expectation” throughout the Advent season for the arrival of our Lord.

This is what the Church is doing for us today by giving us “Rejoicing Sunday”. She reminds us the reason for the season which is the coming of the Lord. “The Lord is near!” While we will still endure the remaining days of Advent, we are uplifted by the announcement that the Lord is close. As we pass the halfway point and head for the home stretch, the Church gives us encouragement. “The Lord is near!”

For some, hearing that Advent is halfway over may be more of an alarm than a sound for rejoicing. They might be asking what the crowds asked John the Baptist, “what should we do?” If you feel that you haven’t been tuned into Advent yet and want to finish strongly, the first thing I would say is what St. Paul wrote, “have no anxiety at all”. This in general is easier said than done, I know. But, be at peace. The Lord has given us much practical advice through the sacred authors in today’s readings for the remaining part of our Advent journey:

1. PRAY EVERY DAY:make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving”

2. DONATE TO THE OUTREACH CENTER:whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise

3. GO TO CONFESSION:Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

Regarding the third suggestion, it seems to me that more people here are going which is awesome. We had a beautiful and inspiring turnout on Wednesday night for the Penance Service. Overall, more parishioners here are responding to the words of St. John the Baptist to prepare the way of the Lord through repentance and forgiveness of sins. And, as I’ve been saying to you for three years now, an increase in frequency in the Sacrament of Confession is an increase in freedom. This means that Confession helps us to be free from sin and more fully enjoy a clean house in preparation of the Lord’s Coming, but also it means to be free to be the people we truly want to be.

Gaudete Sunday is special for me here every year because I rejoice in being your pastor. I echo the Lord’s sentiments of you through the prophet Zephaniah: “The Lord, your God …will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals”. I sing joyfully because of you throughout the year but especially upon Advent reflection and universal rejoicing today. “I shall say it again: rejoice!”

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Have high expectations for God

3rd Sunday of Advent

UM student

“Filled with expectation”
SJB

     Christ
     God always exceeds expectations
     Rejoicing
Do you have high expectations for God?
     Today?
     This week?
     This Mass?

‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

Again, welcome to this blog site!  This is for those who feel lost in their relationship with the Lord and their Catholic faith.  We are here to help you as others have helped us when we were among the lost sheep.  They rejoiced when we were found, and we hope to rejoice when you are, too.

Fr Greg

 

The Parable of the Lost Sheep. (Luke 15:1-7)

1          The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him,

2          but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3          So to them he addressed this parable.

4          “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?

5          And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy

6          and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’

7          I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

Rejoice in the Lord

Every third Sunday of Advent, the Church rejoices. This is known as “Gaudete Sunday”, which uses the Latin word for “rejoicing”. But, we’re still in the season of Advent, a penitential season. We are still in preparation for the coming of the Lord.

In this way, the Lord is not here. Why are we rejoicing? Because “the Lord is near”.

Have you ever taken a trip and become excited as you neared your destination? Maybe it was a long car ride or flight. Or, maybe it was a drive home after sitting in traffic on 295?! Seeing a road sign that the destination was only a few miles away picked you up. Or, hearing from the flight crew that they’re starting the plane’s descent on the city to which you’re going got your heart pumping a little bit more. Reaching your home street should always be a source of excitement and comfort! In each of these situations, a sense of rejoicing that you are near carries you into the home stretch and helps you endure the remaining part of the trip.

This is what the Church is doing for us today by giving us “Rejoicing Sunday”. She reminds us the reason for the season which is the coming of the Lord. “The Lord is near!” While we will still endure the remaining days of Advent, we are uplifted by the announcement that the Lord is close. As we pass the halfway point and head for the home stretch, the Church gives us encouragement. “The Lord is near!”

For some, hearing that Advent is halfway over may be more of an alarm than a sound for rejoicing. They might be asking what the crowds asked John the Baptist, “what should we do?”

If you feel that you haven’t been tuned into Advent yet and want to finish strongly, the first thing I would say is what St. Paul wrote, “have no anxiety at all”.

This in general is easier said than done, I know. But, be at peace. The Lord has given us much practical advice through the sacred authors in today’s readings for the remaining part of our Advent journey:

1.) PRAY EVERY DAY: “make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving”

2.) DONATE TO THE OUTREACH CENTER: “whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise”

3.) GO TO CONFESSION: “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

The third suggestion is most fitting now as we are now in the Year of Mercy. I look forward to this year with you! We hope and pray that it will be a year of mercy and rejoicing in our parish during the jubilee.

This is a special Gaudete Sunday for me because I rejoice in each of you and in being your pastor. “I shall say it again: rejoice!”

–Sincerely in Christ,

Fr Greg