“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall it again: rejoice!”
These words come from this weekends second reading of Philippians chapter 4.
Perfect words for this third weekend of our Advent which is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means to us rejoice! Our Advent is drawing us closer to the celebration of the Lord’s birth and His Second Coming.
The Gospel of Luke has people questioning John the Baptist of what they should do for their sisters and brothers. John calls out to the crowds telling them to share their blessings, clothing and food. John tells Tax Collectors and Soldiers to be fair and respectful of their fellow human beings. The people were excited and enthusiastic to respond at his proclamation.
But John tells these attentive listeners that one greater than himself will be coming. He shares the power of a new baptism and a fire that will cleanse hearts, spirits and souls! Of course we understand John is referring to Jesus! That baptism and fire is offered to us as well. We are invited to look at our own lives and see where our baptism and Jesus’s cleansing fires can bring healing, forgiveness and joy to our very selves. Yes, we are all in need of cleansing if we are honest with ourselves. Where might our hearts need the tender and challenging love of grace to be more alive in Jesus’s command to be Him for others?
Cher sang a song that “words are like weapons, they wound sometime.” How are our words heard and reflective of being Christ for others? Are we harboring anger, envy or selfishness that doesn’t speak of being peace bearers to others? Any folks on our journey that we need to ask forgiveness from or let them forgive us? Anything we know and honestly will benefit from by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
And, are we indifferent to the plight of the poor, vulnerable and folks who are struggling to survive?
This weekend we will be sharing a brief video at the end of the homily. It is called “A Journey to a Newland”. It is about “footprints” to a new place set free from oppression and persecution. It is a good reminder of that statue in standing in a harbor not too far from ourselves. It is about the tired poor, huddled masses and why generations long before ourselves left “home” and folks still doing that at this very moment. They left home. Like many of our ancestors they meet unwelcoming eyes. And they also meet warmth, generosity and grace by those who got it when Jesus said “when you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.”
They come to receive but also to provide. Again, like many of our ancestors generations ago.
This Advent our themes have been “Hope & Anticipation…Forward in Faith” and “Hope, Peace, Joy and Love”. Prayerfully, I’m trusting these sacred days are instilling in us why we will work for peace, justice and equality.
World Relief is the source of todays video. Again, it is called “Journey to a Newland.” It is worth watching and praying over several times. I have. And I’m continuing to do so.
December 12, 2021