December 12th – III Sunday of Advent

My Dear Friends,

Pure joy! On the opening night of the fair last weekend, after going through a lockdown and a pandemic that we’re still going though and all the obstacles we underwent to get to that point, I stood by myself near one of the rides just observing the pure joy on the faces of our children. It was a reflective moment and
something that we don’t often do which is to pause and take in the beauty and joy of a singular moment. Like the sight of children opening gifts on Christmas morning, the faces of parents when their child is baptized or receives their First Holy Communion, the face of a mother or father when they hold their newborn child, or even the precise moment when a bride and groom exchange wedding vows and become husband and wife. As a priest, I’ve learned over the years, despite always thinking about what’s next, to take in and enjoy those moments of pure joy that I am privileged to witness through the sacraments and through my ministry. So I stood there, seeing smiles, hearing laughter, and thanking the Good Lord that we were able to share this weekend of great joy as a community. I had promised and fervently prayed for a big parish celebration on the other side of the pandemic, and God had heard our prayers and allowed us to share in this divine joy that he promises us in the gospel of St. John.

Joy is what this Third Sunday of Advent is all about. “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!” This is what we hear in the first reading from Zephaniah this Sunday. St. Paul takes it a step further in the second reading in his letter to the Philippians when he writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Phil 4:4)” Why do we rejoice? Why are our hearts filled with joy? Because our salvation is at hand. Christmas draws ever near.

St. John Paul II once said: Faith is our source of joy We believe in a God who created us so that we might enjoy human happiness – in some measure on earth, in its fullness in heaven. We are meant to have our human joys: the joy of living, the joy of love and friendship, the joy of work well done. We who are Christians have a further cause for joy: like Jesus, we know that we are loved by God our Father. This love transforms our lives and fills us with joy. It makes us see that Jesus did not come to lay burdens upon us. He came to teach us what it means to be fully happy and fully human. Therefore, we discover joy when we
discover truth – the truth about God our Father, the truth about Jesus our Savior, the truth about the Holy Spirit who lives in our hearts.
(Angelus, 11/30/86)

The greatest source of our joy is Jesus Christ. Christ brings us together as one body and makes us a family in this parish. The quote above from St. John Paul II really resonated with me this past week especially after the completion of our parish fair. “The joy of work well done!” This is what so many experienced after three joy-filled yet exhausting days of putting on a fair. I want to thank the army of parishioners and school parents who spent countless hours working booths and behind the scenes to make this fair a success. I want to thank the many sponsors who were so generous to us. And I want to thank all of you for participating and supporting our annual fair. It was truly a memorable weekend where we were reminded of the joy of encountering Christ
in the faces of our children, in our fellow parishioners, and feeling the joy of being surrounded, in person, by our parish family.

Have a Blessed Gaudete Sunday!

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