The Pastor's Column

Fr. Maina

Gaudete Sunday - Rejoice

Hope and joy are sister virtues, at least as they relate to Gaudete Sunday. These two virtues are acclaimed in our entrance antiphon, they pervade our worship, and they are what makes this third Sunday of Advent unique. Represented in rose- colored vestments, a rose-colored candle, the tone of the readings, and even the Eucharistic prayer, hope and joy are central to this Sunday. We are called to “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say again rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)

Gaudete Sunday transfuses the sense of hope in all of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ and it especially offers hope to those who have experienced a challenging year. I know any holiday season, and Christmas in particular, can be difficult for those unable to be with their families. On my part, I know this year I will miss being with my nieces and nephews, according to whom I am THE Santa Claus! Indeed, my childhood memories bring me to my grandmother’s house, sitting under a live tree for a grand fiesta of Christmas dinner. My grandfather would always buy enough sodas for everyone! My mom who worked in a distant town came home during Christmas so the four weeks leading to Christmas were a real waiting for me. My grandparents’ dog would bark at any strange figure appearing in the distance, and when the dog barked and from a distance I saw my mom approaching, I knew Christmas was here. It was truly a day of rejoicing!

If you are grieving the loss of a loved one within the past year, you will now experience the first Christmas without that person. Be assured of the condolences and prayers of your fellow parishioners. Perhaps the words of St Paul, “Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12) will soothe your hearts and souls and enable you to embrace hope and joy as you await the fulfillment of the miracle of Christmas.

As you know, the word “advent” means the coming, arrival, or presence of a significant person. For us, that person is our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus will come bearing gifts (even though it is His birthday party), and His gifts will not be from a merchant but bestowed upon our hearts! He asks only that we share them with others. The main reason for rejoicing at Christmastime is in our recognition that He has already come into our world—God is here (adventus in Latin).

In our hearts, we find such sentiments as gratitude, thoughtfulness, kindness, love, trust in God, optimism, and peace, all of which represent the main source of joy intended for the third Sunday of Advent—Gaudete Joy! So look in your hearts! The joy can come from memory, from present relationships, from helping someone in need or from all of these. In the news this week was a story of a man who gave up his first class seat in a plane to a woman in economy class struggling with a child! Both the woman and the man expressed joy! Closer to home, I received donations which helped pay for the digging of a borehole for some five families in rural Kenya so that, for the first time this Christmas, they will use fresh, clean water for drinking, cooking, and irrigating small farms that will provide food for the rest of their lives! That is a source of joy! Certainly in receiving, we rejoice! In giving, we also rejoice!

Finally, I invite you to experience the joy of God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This coming Tuesday, December 18 at 7:00pm, we will pray, sing, listen to Scripture readings, reflect, and make individual confessions. More than sixteen priests will be available to hear confessions so you will have your choice of confessor with little or no waiting. I encourage you to celebrate Christmas having received the gift of forgiveness!

May God bless you and your family.

Fr. Maina
With you a Christian, for you a priest