Saturday, December 12, 2009
Welcome to the 3d Sunday of Advent - Gaudete Sunday!
It is called Gaudete Sunday from the first word of the Introit at Mass - Rejoice!
The Introit (Introitus) of the Mass is the fragment of a psalm with its antiphon sung while the celebrant and ministers enter the church and approach the altar.
"Gaudete in Domino semper!" - "Rejoice in the Lord always!"
Expectation is everywhere - in and outside of the Church, especially outside. Children are pinging, vendors are constantly reminding us that time is running out to get that perfect gift for that special someone. Some people are content and done and able to enjoy the season. But most of us are still scrambling.
What did I miss? What do I need to buy next? OMG - I am not going to make it!
Suddenly we are in Church and everything is pink! Excuse me...rose.
ACK! Like I need another reminder that I am running out of time...that I am out of time!
Sometimes we are so wrapped up in our own concerns that we barely notice the readings. Hopefully, we pull our head out of our fog in time to notice the readings have changed. They are not penitential. They are upbeat. Joyful, praising, excited - rejoicing!
Huh? Did we miss something?
Oh yeah - the birth of our Lord is coming. Oh yeah, I promised this year would be different. That I would slow down, buy less, spend more time in quiet thought. Hmmm, that's not quite working out right now.
And yet there is something more. The Gospel is a little different than the rest in tone.
Luke 3: 10 - 18
I particularly liked the following:
15 As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ,
16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
John is fascinating and I am going to do a series on him to do him some justice but the important thing is what John said - "...he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
You have to understand that John was a rock star of the time! He wore crazy clothing, lived in the wild eating wild honey and locusts, and preached this old school message of repentance. And people flocked to him for baptism and to repent. He had his own following of disciples and many thought - could John be the Christ?
The people knew that something was happening, they didn't know what but they had expectation in their hearts and so they asked John - are you the Christ?
And at the height of his popularity, fame and power, John told them - no.
Someone else is coming - someone even better. So much better that I am not even worthy to tie the thong of his sandals.
Think about the pop icons of our day. How many of them can you think of who at the height of their popularity would say, "But wait, someone else is coming who is so much better than me."? None.
No politician either.
Frankly none of us either.
Sure I tell my wife that she could have done so much better but I really don't mean it. I think she's lucky to have me! 8-)
Just like I am lucky to have her! No, not lucky...blessed.
But that's what John did. That's what really made John special. He knew his role and he knew the role of Jesus. He knew from the womb. From the moment he leaped in Elizabeth's womb when Mary came close with Jesus in her womb.
He knew that something better was coming - that someone better was coming.
Adventus - coming. Expectation. Advent.
And what about you?
Are you spending at least as much time thinking about the birth of Christ as you are about how your shopping list is doing or how you are doing on your Christmas card list?
Don't get me wrong, these things matter. God wants us to give gifts to each other, to stay in touch with those that we don't really talk to but once a year.
But he would like some time with you too. After all, it's his birthday.
Even now, it is not too late. It is not too late to re-prioritize. To do less in number to do more in importance.
It is not too late to remember to rejoice because we are remembering the birth of our Lord and savior.
If we were lost and our lives were in danger, we would rejoice when we saw our rescuers appear. We would see the helicopter in the distance and see it coming our way and we would jump up and down, wave our arms, and tears would be coming down our face. We would shout, and laugh and cry and rejoice at our salvation!
This is exactly the way it is today. We were lost and Jesus came to save us. More than that - he died for us so that we could live and not be lost.
Of course we should rejoice! Gaudete! Gaudete in Domino! Gaudete in Domino semper!
God has saved us! We are saved!