Fr Augustine Reflection
3rd Sunday of Advent
Gaudete! Rejoice! Today, on the third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, Latin for “Rejoice” (who knew my Latin classes would pay off so well!). It is an earnest call from the Church to truly rejoice. Rejoice that the time is near when God will become incarnate and our salvation will begin to unfold! May we follow that call with sincerity. As we continue on our Advent journey, we are drawn into the wonderful story of God’s great and magnanimous love for all of us. We begin to realize that the nativity story, as well as the rest of scripture, is not simply a nice bedtime story from thousands of years ago which we share with one another. Instead, we see how it is truly our story as well, how we are sharers and participants in the same beautiful narrative. The story of Christ is our story, as his disciples, and we have inherited the same graces and joys bestowed upon countless generations before us. For that, we rejoice. In our reading from Isaiah for Mass this weekend, we read that beautiful lived moment of the prophet: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.”
I do pray that our souls may be filled with joy; that we may share that joy with one another; and that we always seek to rejoice heartily in our loving God. To love God, to let him be the center of our lives, and to realize the ways in which he blesses us is to live a joy-filled life. Read through our scripture passages once more, study the lives of saints, look at those around you who are faith-filled and devoted Catholics. One common factor you may see through all of them, and throughout the history of the Church, is joy, happiness, and mirth. To love God is to love goodness itself. If our lives as disciples leads us back to merciful gaze of God, how can we not rejoice?
Over the last few weeks, I have spent a bit of time reflecting over the past year (as I tend to do every Advent). One of the things I have tried to do with a little more intentionality this year that in years past was to find those moments of joy and blessedness. There were definitely some areas where I had to look pretty hard, but in my reflections, I was able to see the wonders of our God. I led the people of my last parish with faith, hope, and love, through the extremely challenging shut down and provided needed comfort and compassion. I have close priest friends from across the country whom I have seen more (on zoom) this year than in the last several years combined. I have started helping out and serving the people of Our Lady of the Wayside and begun to build new relationships. With Masses being streamed online, friends and family throughout the nation have been able to pray and celebrate with me more than ever. I have grown to appreciate certain relationships and simple elements of my life on a much deeper level.
Are you able to find blessings in your life from this past year? It can be so easy to just dismiss 2020 and say we are over it and ready to move on. Yet even in the midst of challenges and extremely stressful and trying times, we are called to search out the Lord. When we find him, will we rejoice? May these last few weeks of Advent bring about joy to your families and homes. May the approaching birth of Christ strengthen you and give you peace. May this season or preparation for the goodness that is to come, lead all of us to a life of rejoicing!
May God bless you all,
Fr. Mark Augustine