Sunday, December 17, 2017

December 17 - 3rd Sunday of Advent

3rd Sunday of Advent – December 17, 2017

I –I rejoice heartily in the Lord.
R –My soul rejoices in my God.
II – May you entirely, spirit, soul and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
G –There is one among you whom you do not recognize.

+ Today we celebrate the loftiness that is “Gaudete Sunday” – “Rejoice Sunday”: taken from the opening Latin word “gaudete / rejoice” of the “Introit” or as we say now the “Entrance Antiphon” of today’s mass; and we light the “Joy” candle in our Advent wreath to mark the occasion. We have arrived now past the midpoint of the Advent Season, and the intensity of our spiritual preparation increases, the desires of our hearts intensifies and the time left to finalize this year’s spiritual gift to the Lord is winding down.

It is very evident that this is a “gift giving time of the year”; but what is becoming unfortunately less and less evident is the real reason for the giving; the true motivation behind it. And that motivation originates in this:

God the Father gifted us with a Savior, a Redeemer, a Reconciler – without whom we would have suffered eternal separation, loss and pain as a result of our inherent affiliation with our sinful first parents: (and this Redeemer, his own Son) was born in a stable on Christmas Day;

in time, this babe, this child, this adolescent, this young adult, this grown man gifted us with signs and wonders, but also with the introduction of a system of morality, based on truth and justice, and self-sacrificial love and service (which was something new); this Suffering Servant Son, Christ Jesus, then put everything on the line and died for proof of his love – laying down his life for us and our salvation;

then, activated by the working of the Holy Spirit, God the Father and the Son, gifted us with the Church, to be the Presence of Jesus, his guidance and companionship” along the way” to eternal life – of this Church we are members; to this Church we invite as many as we can to join us!

This divine dynamic of self-sacrificial gift giving is the true model of gift giving at this time of the year. For what we have learned from the sermons of Jesus is true: that which we give to others, we give to him, personally. The question then is: do we remember or even realize these realities at this holiday time of the year? What is important is most assuredly the personal thought behind a gift: an object hand-made, a service rendered, some help that is given, the cheer and goodwill bestowed.

It is not about the price of  or quantity of  “things” “objects” “gadgets” or “devices” that matters – in the big picture these will fade away – in fact very quickly – but what will remain is the spirit behind truly personal gifts given, in imitation of the personal giving of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit: gifts that bring glad tidings to the poor, healing to the broken-hearted, liberty to captives, release to prisoners, a year of favor lived in God’s presence with brothers and sisters who truly care!

Coming to understand this concept at this stage of the Advent Season can be reason for great rejoicing; and we still have time maybe to rethink some of our holiday gift list. The best rule of thumb might be: give what will be able to be taken with you when all is said and done! Think about it!; act on it!

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.

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