From the Pastor's Desk
Welcome to the third Sunday of Advent, traditionally called "Gaudete Sunday." As the rose candle is now illuminated on our Advent wreath and the dawning of Christmas draws nigh, our readings present us with an invitation to be joyful at what was made manifest in the Christmas miracle. The identity of the Messiah was made clear. Jesus, the Promised One of the ages, born in Bethlehem, and later pointed out by John the Baptist as the one who would baptize with spirit and fire, comes to his people. He did so historically. He does so again as we recall the anniversary of his birth. He now comes to us mysteriously under the veil of liturgical and sacramental signs. Yes; he comes to us in grace to "make justice and praise spring up before the nations."
The children of Saint Theresa School get it. They captured this mystery of mysteries in their wonderful performance of the Christmas story this past Tuesday night. Stars, lambs, shepherds, kings and angels were all present to lift our spiritual appetite to the story of the mystery of God in history, beginning at Bethlehem. The Celestial choir which will have sung on Saturday night gets it too. Their musical selections, sung angelically, enable hearers to have souls that soar in longing for the peace and joy of this season.
Given the imperfections, divisions, misunderstandings, the stressful hustle and bustle, selfish terrorism and rampant judgementalism that seemingly scar the interactions among people in our modern world, and even at this "most wonderful time of the year," it is refreshing to be reminded that there is One who has come (and who continually comes to us) bringing uplifting tidings of hope and healing, of freedom and release, of grace and favor from the God of heaven and earth, and even bringing the stabilizing "vindication by our God." Yes; in the face of so much contemporary acrimony on the news, aggression on our roads and streets, and silly conflicts between members of the same household, neighbors, or even parish, during this Advent and Christmas season our souls can be enlivened with the knowledge of the greatness of God, who desires to fill us with new life, bind our wounds, and heal the broken hearted. As Saint Paul beautifully says to the Thessalonians in our second reading this weekend, "the one who calls you is faithful, and he will accomplish" what he has set out to do. The Christ who brings light will cast out the darkness of gloom and doom. His light will be an antiseptic of spiritual sunshine, if we choose to sit under his rays.
This Sunday, as we now begin to make immediate preparations for Christmas, recalling the story and entering into the divine plan, let us welcome Christ's light with joy, cleanse our hearts, prepare our souls, and illuminate our minds with the grace of this holy time. May we heed the spiritual advice of the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist: "make straight the way of the Lord" so that all might come to believe and find life.