Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gaudete

3rd Sunday of Advent Year A 2013:
Today has always been one of my favorite days of the liturgical year.  This is Gaudete Sunday.  It is one of my favorite days, not because I get to wear these fancy pink vestments, but because we light our third candle.  This Gaudete Sunday is a signal the Christmas is coming soon.  Indeed it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas with the snow on the ground and decorations on people’s houses.  The day is quickly coming.  So today is a day of Joy, amidst our patient waiting of Advent.  I think this mirrors our life in many ways.
It is certainly true that there is a great deal of patient waiting in this life.  We wait in our cars, we wait in our homes, we wait at banks, restaurants, you name it.  There is a great deal of waiting.  In fact, I think that the modern parent probably spends half of his/her day sitting in a car waiting on kids.  I know that I don’t like to wait, I’m not very patient, I like things to happen right away.  But, what makes waiting bearable is always what is at the other end.  As long as we keep our goal in sight, we are able to wait with patience.
The same is true in our life of faith.  We are in the season of Advent, which allows us to patiently wait for the coming of Christ at Christmas, but also prepares us for the arrival of Christ when he will come again.  But, sometimes life seems all to full of waiting for God that we might tend toward losing our patience.  This is why we need to keep the goal in our sights.
These pink vestments help us to do this with Christmas.  This symbol is a blending of the purple of Advent and the white of Christmas.  It is almost like Christmas is starting to break through the purple of Advent.  So, by setting our sights on the end, which is Christmas, it fills us with joy as we continue to wait.
It shouldn’t be any different as we prepare to meet Christ on the last day.  The joy of his coming should break into our daily lives, filling them with joy as well.  But, the future coming of Jesus can see remote and distant.  What about right now, especially when we are dealing with sickness, sadness, pain, or mourning?  How does the joy of the coming of Jesus break into our daily lives?
Jesus says it well today: Go and tell John what you see: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor hear good news.  Jesus does not say that these things are limited to the end of time when he will come in his glory, but that they are happening even here, right now. 
I see this every day. One of the most amazing things about being a priest is that I am always seeing how God is working in people’s lives.  Maybe it is someone fighting against an illness, but is strengthened by the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.  Or maybe someone who is quite downcast because of his sins, I get to see the freedom that comes through the sacrament of Confession.  Or the many people who are strengthened and inspired for daily living by the celebration of the Eucharist, or by the worship of Christ in our adoration chapel.  I am so blessed to see so many wonderful moments of grace in people’s lives. 

Every time we gather to celebrate the sacraments, the joy of eternity is breaking into our daily lives.  Every time we experience God’s love through the caring of another person, eternity is breaking into our daily lives.  We see, even here and now, glimpses of the life to come.  And these glimpses are meant to be like these pink vestments or that pink candle: these glimpses fill us with joy as we patiently await the coming of Christ. 

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