Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reflection for Gaudete Sunday’

It is no wonder this Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called ‘Gaudete Sunday’ – that is ‘REJOICING’ Sunday. Read through or listen to the readings carefully. How many references are there to ‘joy’, ‘happy’, ‘dance’ and ‘rejoice’?

Yes, we are to called to rejoice because the Lord is near. We all need the power of God that carries us through difficult times and the support of others which helps us face the reality of our own weakness and limitations.

On Friday there was the terrible shooting at the school in America in which so many children and their teacher were killed. It is very difficult to think of rejoicing in the face of such appalling tragedy. One is reminded of the massacre of the Holy Innocences, coming so soon after the birth of Our Lord Jesus.

Yet when we believe in the abiding presence of God, a God who cares for us so much that he sent his own Son, this gives us a deep sense of Joy in the midst of our everyday lives. That presence of God challenges us to the daily calling to be his servants doing his will with generosity and conviction.

We also have John the Baptist to remind us. We too can ask: “What must we do, then?” Just as did all the people, the tax-collectors, the soldiers etc., we need to be alert to the “feeling of expectancy”, which we hear of in the Gospel.

When we approach our life and our faith with that “feeling of expectancy”, it means we are alert, excited, open-minded, willing to change, wanting to do something extra.
This is a wonderful state of mind to be in. We are not operating from fear, laziness or any of the other attitudes that can inhibit us, we are open minded and anxious to do what is best.

The Gospel demands a response, not just an intellectual one, but a lived one too. This is because the gospel is a meeting with the person of Jesus Christ. It has to be a personal commitment to Him. The crowds were attracted to John the Baptist not just by his words, but by the way he lived. Jesus likewise attracts us to himself by his words, his ministry and by showing us the love of God the Father.

We can widen the circle. In this Year of Faith, we can apply all the above message in our lives, by reciting the simple prayer daily:

Lord, let me see your face, know your heart
And experience your love in my life.
Strengthen in me the precious gift of faith.
I believe Lord; help my unbelief. Amen.

We pray that we can ‘see His face’ in those around us and in the most un-expectant situations. Yes, we believe, but if only our faith and vision of God were stronger!

What beautiful thoughts to reflect on in this remaining part of Advent.

This is the positive approach we can have with just over a week to go before we celebrate the birth of Christ our Saviour. We can have a happy, joyous approach over these last few days as we are rushing about in last minute preparations. Happy Advent!

Fr Joe Tyan is Parish Priest at St John Vianney's Church in West Green Road, north London, and Chair of Westminster Diocese Justice and Peace

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