Sunday 16 December 2018

Gaudete Sunday The Third Sunday of Advent 2018

Gaudete Sunday The Third Sunday of Advent 2018

The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent:

First Reading Zephaniah 3:14-18a 
Responsorial Psalm Isaiah 12:2-6 Response 6
Second Reading Philippians 4:4-7 
Gospel Luke 3:10-18

Each year as Advent begins I hope and pray for a quiet season of reflection and preparation. And each year at some point I begin to feel a heaviness inside, a weight, pressing upon my chest, encasing my heart. This year it is approaching this weekend. I have been wondering this year about ending the blog. It started in 2005 as an archive of reviews and articles be published in newspapers and magazines. And today I have had the urgent impression to leave all social media. But I know that December is not the time for me to make big decisions. This week has thrown me off. I typically work 615-2:15, get up at 5, and am often alone at work until almost 8. This week I was doing a live virtual classroom course. The hours were 830-5. It made for very busy after school time with the kids. And I missed by few hours alone time each day. And so I pray and read, and hope. I reflect and prepare. 

The end of the first reading states:

“The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you will gladness,
he will renew you in his love.
The Lord, your God, will exult over you with lord singing
as on a day of festival.”

The promise from Zephaniah is twofold, first God has removed his condemnation, and second God promises to never abandon his people. I know that to be true intellectually and spiritually. But there are times I struggle with it emotionally. Today is one of those times. But even as I write those words, and bring them to the light, I am smiling, for I trust in God’s salvation. 

One of the reasons I am often drawn to the Responsorial Psalms is they give hope. This is one of a few responsorial psalm that is not from the book of Psalms. This week it is from the prophet Isaiah. The response this week is:

“Shout aloud and sing for joy; great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

And the second section is:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.”

And that is the great thing about being Catholic. No matter how hard things get, we can look back at God’s faithfulness, to us personally, to our parishes, to our dioceses, and to the church as a whole. I look back on the lives of the saints and am encouraged, and challenged. And this ties to the beginning of the second reading:

“Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, rejoice.”

The gospel message today is especially important at Christmas.  John the Baptist responds to different groups of people who ask what they should do. He responds to the crowd in general, to tax collectors, to soldiers.

“Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

“Collect no more than the amount proscribed for you.”

“Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

I know it is taking the phrase out of context but what really struck me is ‘Be Satisfied’! What would our world look like if we were satisfied with our car, with our home, with our clothes? With our relationships, with our job, with our social standing? I believe the world would be a radically different place if we learned to truly separate needs from wants. And It is something I am struggling to figure out, what do I need, what do I want. Which of the wants can go by the wayside.  The gospel today ends with the statement that Jonn proclaimed the good news. That is our job as Christians, as Catholics. What we believe should be shaping our life. What we believe should shape our relationships, our work, our families, and our witness. Few of us will be ‘John’s’ preaching from  the desert. But we are all called to witness by our life. And what do we have in excess that we can share, at this holiday season, and throughout the year.

As always I end with a prayer. I pray that the light of the season shine in your heart, in your spirit and in your life. Let the fire of hope enkindle the flames and spur you on to action. 

Note: Link to all posts about St. Agnes Parish.

1 comment:

Jean Heimann said...

Steven, Please don't end the blog. I enjoy reading your blog so much. Pray about it and talk to a spiritual director first. Perhaps you just need a break or to post less often. You may just want to tweak it a bit. What you do is very unique and very much needed in our world today. Although I don't always comment, I am a faithful reader. Thank you for the wonderful work you do here! May God continue to bless you and your gift of evangelization.