My column for this weekend’s bulletin and cover drawing
Dear Believers in the Baptized Christ,
Today is “Gaudete” Sunday, a Latin word meaning, “Rejoice.” We rejoice that we are half-way to Christmas. This rejoicing means that we experience and are aware of the miracles of the Incarnation. We know what Jesus can do for us because of his passion, death and resurrection and through the gift of our own baptism. The liturgical color for today is “rose” and we light the rose candle on the Advent wreath. However, the profound nature of our spiritual path goes well beyond a liturgical color.
We see the depth of our Advent journey in today’s gospel (Matthew 11:2-11). John the Baptist is in prison and hears of the work of Jesus. Jesus is demonstrating the reasons why we “rejoice” in the first place. “The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news proclaimed to them.”
Jesus’ actions are at the heart of our spiritual journey. These actions are not left in the past. These are the encounters that Jesus has with his people. He still is inviting us to bring our pain, our burdens, our ill health and our complicated lives to him. He wants our hearts. He desires us. This is Advent Hope striving to break open our cynicism, our desperation and our apathy.
In our day and time, Jesus is asking us to be his instrument of justice in our world. As Christians we still need to build bridges of acceptance to become a community of peace, a city of hope, a neighborhood of mercy to bring all people together. We listen to the Advent gospels with hearts that are wide open to the needs of people today. We act as Jesus did so that hope and rejoicing remains in our world today.
We are constantly being called to reveal our identity as Christians in our world. The good works in today’s gospel revealed Jesus as the Messiah. Our role is to strive for justice for all people. We use our gifts and talents to make the world understand the mercy, tenderness, and healing powers of Jesus Christ. We never sit back in our comfort and wait for someone else in faith to change the world. Don’t wait for the pastor to do it. Don’t wait for the Pope to do it alone. Don’t wait for an organization or institution to put into place the justice that Jesus calls for. Jesus is waiting for you to be converted, changed into a hands-on believer who finally understands that we need to enter into relationship with the blind, the lame, the underserved, and the destitute. We need to finally co-operate with the graces Jesus is offering us in order to show the world that he is the Messiah.
The Advent journey takes us to the beauty and wonder of the Incarnation at Christmas. This means that every life has meaning. Every person is to be held in the light of Christ’s love and hope. In other words, the core of our faith is about “people”. It is through humanity that we all experience the awesomeness, the richness, and the integrity of Jesus Christ. We are all called and challenged to put our lives in the center of exactly what we hope for, the Coming of Christ Jesus. In today’s gospel, we see this miracle made real exactly as the disciples did when we extend our lives to hurting people and to the love of God. Rejoice when the poor have the good news preached to them, when the blind see, when lepers are cleansed and when the crippled leap for joy!
Blessings in this Advent Season,