December 17, 2017 Third Sunday of Advent

Today is Gaudete Sunday; Joy Sunday! It is a day for considering all that we as Christians can rejoice about and, of course, when all is said and done our greatest joy, our only final joy, is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

What will bring you joy and happiness? There are various types of joy and happiness; some are superficial and come and go but there is also deeper and lasting joy and happiness that abides and remains. Our Church reminds us Advent is the time of the coming of God into our humanity, into your personal lives, and into mine too. It is that mysterious time of the year when we recognize the tension between what already “is” and what is yet “to be”; between what we “are” and what we “can be”; between what has been accomplished and what remains unfinished in our personal enterprise of life. The birth of Jesus Christ empowers us to move beyond what has been, and to move into God’s kingdom here on earth.

This truth why we are joyful as Catholics can be expressed in many ways, here are a few answers to this question:


I rejoice because God is looking for me. The Scriptures tell me, and so do the prayers of the Eucharist, God is looking for me. He has sent his Son Jesus to find me. I lie there trapped in all the weakness of human life and I long to be rescued and to see the face of my rescuer. I know he will find me one day; he will come for me and save me. Not everyone has this longing for him or this trust in him. I rejoice that I have been granted this gift.


I rejoice because he is near. This is exciting! He is not far away. He is near because my stay on earth, however young I am, will soon end. Death is not a falling asleep, it is a waking up. And he is near in his Second Coming. He has promised and I believe his promise. This gives me so much joy. Many people do not have the gift of this sense of meaning in their life. They wait for death. Christians wait for life and life is coming; it is near.


I rejoice because he is here. As the Scripture says: He stands among you. Jesus is in our world but he is not recognized. He is here already among us actively working to save us in all sorts of ways. What a gift this presence is! He is also present in my heart, in my life.


I rejoice because He is my Redeemer, my Savior. He will save me from all those things I am so afraid of – my weakness and sinfulness, Hell, Satan, death. He is my Savior and he is stronger than any other person or thing. He is Lord of all and has power over all. I rejoice that my God is THE God and that in Him I am safe.


I rejoice that I am a member of such a big lovely family, God’s family. Whenever I meet a catholic who believes as the Church believes I am immediately at home. I click with that person, we are friends. We understand each other – we ‘love’ each other.


I rejoice that I have a gift to give God that is worthy of him, the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. I know that when I give this gift to God it is pleasing to God and it expresses my love for God in a way that God accepts. The Eucharist is the gift that God wants me to give him and it is the gift I want to give him.


I rejoice that I have a place to confess my sins where he is waiting for me with the priest in the Sacrament of Confession. He always forgives me. He understands me. He is gentle with me. He helps me. I rejoice in this sacrament because it gives me a new start. It is God’s mercy at work on my behalf.


I rejoice that I know where I am going in life. My life is a journey and I know it’s destination. So many people don’t know where they are going. I do. And I have all the help I need to get there from the Church and from the sacraments.


I rejoice that Jesus has taken the one thing I don’t like about life i.e. suffering and made it into a kind of treasure for me, fuel for my relationship with him. He could have taken any aspect of human life and turned it into this treasure but he chose suffering. I am so glad that I have found joy in suffering. I never thought it was possible but it is. He has given it meaning because I find him there.


This joy we are talking about, of course, is more than a happy, outward smile.

Jesus, of course, is the fire which warms us. We need to get close to him during time of Advent – to know him as our personal friend.  As we grow closer to him our joy will increase.


So let’s list, the classical ways of getting close to him.


  • Remove the obstacles that stand between us and our friend. In other words, remove sin from our lives. Sin is the only, I repeat, the only barrier to closeness with Jesus. The first step is usually to make a good confession.
  • Be where he wants us to be at each moment of the day, faithful to the duties of our life. He doesn’t want a young mother at daily morning Mass if she should be at home helping the kids get ready for school – or a sick man to fast on Friday when he should be eating good food to recover his health.
  • Be faithful to the Sunday Mass because faithfulness to Mass is faithfulness to Jesus, as well as to the community.
  • Spend quality, regular, prolonged time with our friend to the extent that we can. In other words, pray! He asks it of us. It shows we love him. It increases our love for him.
  • Love our neighbor – forgiving, understanding, accepting – not judging, but always encouraging. This is the greatest way to show gratitude to God for all that he has done for us.


What will be the end result of our efforts? It will be holiness, and joy, and peace in our day – even when we suffer or even if not everything goes the way we wish and want.