Third Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

My homily at the 8:30 and 11:00 Masses at Our Lady of Fatima
Sunday, December 15, 2019

Audio Recording

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday during Advent when we reflect on the joy we have – or should have – as we recognize that the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas Day is very near.

Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice,” and in the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass, which we don’t recite because we opt to sing an Entrance Hymn, we are reminded by St. Paul to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.” Today we light the rose colored Advent candle and wear the rose colored vestments as reminders of this joy we have as Christians.

But isn’t rejoicing a naive, childish thing to do in today’s world? After all, the world is still flooded with sin. There is so much evil, pain and suffering all around us. Isn’t it foolish to rejoice in the midst of such a suffering world?

No, it is not at all foolish that we rejoice now.

We rejoice because the Lord’s Christmas coming is near.

We rejoice because he came to show us how to live now as citizens of heaven and to give us his joy in the midst of so much pain, suffering and evil we experience in this life.

We rejoice because, like John the Baptist, we believe that Christ gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cleansed the lepers, gave hearing to the deaf, raised the dead, and proclaimed the good news to the poor.

We rejoice because we have hope, hope that Christ has come to establish a new kingdom where we will live with him forever.

Today we joyfully anticipate this birth of God himself into our world as an infant that we celebrate on Christmas Day and for the weeks that follow.

For us Catholics, Christ’s coming at Christmas is so important that we celebrate it for a full twelve days, concluding with the Feast of the Epiphany. In fact, many Christians celebrate Christmas for a full 40 days until Candlemass on February 2nd.

Today let us consider how we might put aside some of the distractions of our secular culture that tempt us to believe that Christmas is primarily about giving and getting material things we think will make us happy, yet always fall short of bringing about true joy in our hearts.

Let’s take these next couple of weeks to prepare ourselves well to celebrate the coming of the infant Christ. In these last days before Christmas, let’s stir up our own joyful hope by spending a bit more time meditating on the incarnation of God as a man, so that our hope will increase and overflow to others in both our deeds and our words.

What greater present can we offer Christ on his birthday than to bring him our own lives? Maybe we need to reflect on how the joy of our faith can heal some of the the drama that so many of our families experience when we gather for the holidays?

Perhaps this Christmas we can all make the effort to do as the Apostle James tells us to do in the second reading when he says “We must bear with one another and not complain.” May our joy be a light in the darkness we so often encounter among those who have drifted from the faith, or have yet to understand the redemptive value of suffering.

Strengthened by the Eucharist we are about to receive, let us ask him to make our hearts firm in the knowledge that he has truly come to dwell among and within us. As we receive Christ’s true presence in this Holy Sacrament, he sanctifies us and makes us more and more like him. May this joy we receive from him overflow into the world so that our lives might be a healing presence for everyone we meet.

Dear friends, let us use the remaining time of this season of Advent to reflect deeply on our faith so that we might experience the ever-present and abiding joy God has prepared for all who truly believe that our Messiah has come. That he came to live and die for each of us so that we might be free from the power of sin and death. So that we will live with him forever in his heavenly kingdom if only we answer his call to live a life of love and sacrifice for our neighbor.

This is truly our reason for rejoicing! God bless you.