Celebrate Sunday Mass - Third Sunday of Advent - 12.13.20

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12/13/2020 (3 years ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete! REJOICE!

Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...

I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS ON THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler. The response to offering these beautiful liturgies has been overwhelming. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them before we go to Mass.

On this Third Sunday, all Roman Catholic clergy will wear Rose, a color that symbolizes Joy. This Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. The Latin word is an exhortation calling us all to rejoice, because the coming of the Lord is growing closer. 

The scriptural passages proclaimed at Holy Mass continue to call all of us to prepare for the coming of the Lord. To live as though we know he will return and to look for His Coming. 

The first reading from the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah should be familiar to us. These were the words that Jesus read in the synagogue of Nazareth at the beginning of His public ministry. He told the listeners that these words were being fulfilled. Faithful Jews were familiar with these words from the Scroll of Isaiah. Isaiah was understood to be a Prophet who pointed to the coming Messiah. 

The passage from the Prophet Isaiah then proclaims, "I rejoice heartily in the Lord."  Those who were open to the Lord were astonished at his teaching. They were filled with joy. The Psalm response echoes the theme of joy with the words of the Magnificat from the first chapter of the Gospel of St Luke. Mary, the Mother of the Lord and our Mother, is filled with joy when she greets her cousin Elizabeth. That is because the Lord Jesus is in her womb, already saving the world. 

The Second Reading is from the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians.  He tells them - and he tells us- to "Rejoice Always". We need to hear these words today. It seems that no matter where you look, there is bad news! However, the pain, hurt, fear, worry, and that awful killer on the loose in our modern mania, stress, need not distract us from the source of true Joy, Jesus! We can indeed rejoice always because the Lord Jesus Christ is with us!

In times like this I thank God for the great gift of the liturgical year. Our mother, the Church invites us to enter the deepest mysteries of the faith by living them liturgically. The Feasts we celebrate, and our preparation for them, are an invitation to participate, beginning now, in the life to come. So, it is with Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of rejoicing. 

The Gospel for Holy Mass is taken from the first chapter of the Gospel of St John. Once again, we are asked to consider John the Baptizer as we prepare for the celebration of the coming of the Lord at Christmas. John is a man who was truly humble. It was never about him. He always pointed to Jesus. Though we do not often consider this, he was also a man who was filled with joy because of this!

John understood that life was not all about him. He emptied himself of himself willingly. His humility opened a space within him for true joy to take root and set him free! John is a sign of contradiction for an age like our own where so many people are drunk on self-worship and lost in narcissistic self-absorption. 

John the Baptizer points all of us to the path of true freedom, living a lifestyle of self-emptying and service to the Lord. He affirmed "He (Jesus) must increase, and I must decrease". (John 3:30) That is what we need to learn from him. Jesus must increase, I must decrease.  This is the attitude, the disposition, the way of life which can lead each one of us into to true freedom and genuine joy. 

When Our Lady went to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth - she was carrying the Incarnate Word, Jesus, and Elizabeth was carrying John - the Gospel tells us: 

"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said: "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior." (Luke 1: 41-47) 

Living in his mother's womb, this last Prophet of the Old Testament and First Prophet of the New responded to the arrival of Jesus the Savior with a dance of Joy. St. John also records John the Baptizer explaining the reason for his joy, "The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. So, this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease." (John 1:29 - 30) 

Christian joy is not rooted in the circumstances and struggles of our daily lives. Often, they are the bad fruit of the disorder and brokenness caused by sin. Christian Joy finds its root in the relationship we now have, in and through Jesus Christ, with the Father, and by the Holy Spirit.

We rejoice on Gaudete Sunday because the Lord is always with us. He is always coming to those who have the eyes of living faith to see Him.  In a matter of days, we will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. The Church as mother and teacher calls us on the third Sunday of Advent to pause from our Advent preparation. She summons us in the liturgy by using the imperative case to - "Rejoice!"

May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world on this Lord's Day.   

Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation

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