This was given on December 13th and 14th, 2008. The readings were Is. 61:1-2a, 10-11; 1 Thess. 5:16-24; with the Gospel 1:6-8, 19-28, which was about John the Baptist being the “voice crying in the wilderness.”
This one I think was my first real home run – I got more compliments about this one than any of my previous ones – the emotion, the irony and relevance factor to the then blooming economic crisis really hit home with many.
“Today we celebrate the Third Sunday in Advent – it is known as Gaudete Sunday, “Gaudete” is Latin for “REJOICE”. It is a day where we are all called upon to REJOICE at the Coming of the Lord!
But – do we really feel like rejoicing?
What on Earth do we have to rejoice about anyway?
What about family of five who have just been told right here at Christmas time that the mom will have to take three days of unpaid furlough because the City Government’s Budget is short? What do they have to rejoice about?
What about the electrician at the Ford plant out on Chamberlain Lane with two daughters in college who honestly doesn’t know if he’ll be employed this time next year? What does he have to rejoice about?
What about the widower for whom this is his first Christmas without his wife who just passed away this past year? What does he have to rejoice about?
What about the single mother who with her three children is about to be evicted from her small apartment because she lost her job and has gotten behind on her rent? What does she have to rejoice about?
What about the widow who lives alone and who will spend this holiday season like she has spent all the other ones – with no one who calls or who comes by to visit? What does she have to rejoice about?
What about the family of seven who have just been told that the father who is in his early fifties has stage four pancreatic cancer? What do they have to rejoice about?
What about the young woman who went into the abortion clinic on Market Street yesterday morning? What does she have to rejoice about?
What in the name of God almighty do they have to rejoice about?
Every single one of these people has a human face – they are individuals that breathe and live and cry and feel deeply about every one of these events that are happening to them. They, and countless others, experience hardship and suffering and injustice upon injustice every single day and for so many, things never get any better.
What do we have to rejoice about?
What we have, quite simply, is faith.
We all know that there is evil and injustice in this world. We know that there is violence and selfishness and downright tragedy anywhere you care to look.
But we still have faith.
And we here today KNOW that is spite of all the evil that happens to ANY of us, no matter the cause, we STILL CAN OVERCOME.
Because we HAVE FAITH.
We have faith that CHRIST IS COMING.
This season of Advent – this Sunday of REJOICING is NOT, as many might think simply a preparation for celebrating Christmas – his coming once long ago.
If it were indeed just that, then how could we possibly REJOICE in the face of all those people in currently in pain and suffering?
Gaudete Sunday is about REJOICING indeed that Christ is coming, but we are rejoicing not about Christmas, but in the belief that he WILL COME AGAIN.
Just as we proclaim the mystery of faith: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will COME AGAIN.”
We rejoice today because we know that when Christ DOES come again everything will be put to rights. Like it tells us in the book of Revelation:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
We rejoice today because the scriptures we heard today remind us that Christ is coming back – and that day, my friends, is NOT a day to fear, oh no – It is a day to rejoice!
Our blessed mother proclaimed it so well in her Magnificat which we just heard – all injustices will be set to rights, the poor will be filled, the sick will be healed and the righteous will rejoice in these events.
We rejoice today because there is hope. We believe, we have faith, and our spirits rejoice in God our savior!
And surprisingly enough, we rejoice today because we still have a lot of work to do.
We have the wonderful opportunity this season and every season to make a difference for so many people, by a kind word, a simple smile or a phone call, a donation to St. Vincent De Paul, but most especially through our prayers.
Sometimes we all just feel so powerless in the face of it all, just like I’m sure those people do that I mentioned at the beginning.
But we still rejoice.
We rejoice because we believe John the Baptist’s voice crying in the wilderness telling us to prepare the way of the Lord and we know that things can get better – we know we CAN overcome if we work together.
We rejoice because we are truly working to build the future – a future of hope for all of us. In the face of uncertain times, we here at St. Gabriel and the entire Archdiocese are standing up for HOPE and for the FUTURE with our Building the Future of Hope campaign. We know we have many needs but we have the courage to say WE WILL STAND FOR HOPE. Christ you see is COMING and we want to be ready.
But most importantly, we rejoice today because of all those people in need this season and every season.
Because, as St. Thomas More once said, on the subject of miracles . . .
. . . there are precedents.”