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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Rejoice - The Lord is Truly Near (Gaudete Sunday)

Homily - 3rd Sunday of Advent
Rejoice in the Lord Always! Today is the 3rd Sunday in Advent, traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, Gaudete is Latin for Rejoice.

There is a theme that runs through each of today's readings and the Gospel. This theme directs us to be joyful, confident, to be free of anxiety and to be satisfied. The first reading from Zephaniah asks us to sing joyfully since the Lord has removed the judgment against us, he has turned away our enemies. He tells us to “Fear Not,” and to Not be discouraged!

So who is this enemy that Zephaniah speaks of?

The enemy is Sin. Through the redemptive plan of our Lord Jesus, sin has been conquered. St. Paul writes in today's second reading, “Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: Rejoice!”

Or, as another translation has it, “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord: I repeat, what I want is your happiness” (Phil 4:4). Notice where he says we will find our happiness, “In the Lord.” We will only find true happiness by living the Christian Life. So, to become even happier, what do we do?

We give up sin. We turn our backs on sin. In our Gospel today, 3 times people asked John the Baptist, “what should we do?” Each time he told them to give up something or not to be greedy.

Our journey of conversion is a journey from Wanting and being Greedy and Possessive, to becoming unselfish. That was the journey John the Baptist asked his listeners to make, and the journey we are challenged to make this advent as well. By doing so we will have true joy and happiness to celebrate “Christmas” rather than just “Santa Claus coming to town.” When we turn our backs to sin and follow the Lord it doesn't mean that we will never again have trouble. Of course we will. We will have troubles and problems as long as we live. But we can still find our happiness in the Lord.

In the season of Advent there is a sense of anticipation and hope that is focused on the coming birth of the Christ. Today's readings reflect that the activity of waiting in hope for God to act, by sending us a messiah, a savior, involves two aspects – an passive aspect and a more active one.

If closeness to God is our priority, we learn how to be “detached from things” so that they don't upset us as deeply as they otherwise might, we learn patience and what we might call the “art of waiting.” And so even when the surface activities and events of our lives are turbulent, as they very often are, beneath the turbulence there is a peace that arises out of that attitude of patience and waiting.

It is something we should consciously ask God for: The quality of calm and interior strength, a sense of contact with Him, carrying us along, especially during periods of upheaval or tribulation. But then there is also a more active aspect of waiting in hope for God to make his presence known, and that is the aspect of actively doing something to prepare ourselves for God's arrival.

The prophets called this active preparation “Repentance,” and that is what both Zephaniah in the first reading, and John the Baptist in the Gospel passage are encouraging their listeners to do – to repent, to change their way of living, as a means of preparing themselves for the arrival of God.

Like all the prophets, Zephaniah reminds the Chosen people of their responsibilities under their special covenant with God and calls them back to a more faithful following of God. “Turn away from your sins and turn back to God” is almost a one-line summary of the preaching of all the prophets, because “repent” means “To turn around.” So, how do I apply this message to my life?
How do you apply this message to your life? What is John the Baptist telling us, today?

Ask yourself this question, “Do I need to make any changes in my life in response to the Gospel, the Good News? You might say, “I obey the commandments and I listen to the teachings of the church.” But our own goodness is more than a matter of following the rules – it is matter of being open to God's will, and living accordingly. The teachings of John the Baptist are applicable to all of us. Whatever our role in life is, whatever our job is, Whatever business we conduct, we need to do it faithfully, ethically, and responsibly. We should not be looking for loopholes, for excuses, or for ways to get more that we are due.

If we are to live our lives in accordance with our professed beliefs, we must allow our eyes, and our hearts to notice those opportunities, large or small, to put our faith into action. The word “exhortations” toward the end of today's Gospel can also be translated “Encouragements.”

John encourages his followers to go beyond the law, to be even better people than the minimum required. When we begin to understand the life Jesus came to give us, we also begin to see why the Gospel is good news, even if it means changing our lives. We then will desire to live a good life out of love for God, rather than just to avoid punishment.

Our good works should be a reflection of God's presence in our lives and in the world. This can be demonstrated in our families, in our relationships with friends, neighbors, and co-workers: and in our interactions with others that we may encounter. Our efforts to built a better world, a better community, a better parish, a better family, and a better self, are all preparations for the coming of Christ.

So let us Rejoice, and let the goodness in our hearts, and of our actions, be the good news to all those who need to hear and feel it.

The Lord has removed the Judgmental against us. Let us be joyful ! Let us be confident ! Let us be free of anxiety ! Let us be satisfied in our lives !

Rejoice! Because we are Christians


Rejoice! Because we know Christ and He is truly near!

1 comment:

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