Monday, December 11, 2017

December 17, 2017 - Rejoice!


Gaudete Sunday - Year B

Reading I:  Is. 61:1-2, 10-11

Magnificat:  Luke 1:46-50, 53-54

Reading II:  1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 

Gospel:  John 1:6-8, 19-28

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we find St. John the Baptist again pointing away from himself and claiming to be but a witness, testifying concerning the Light who was to come after him. When the people recognized the holiness of the man, they had begun to think of him as a prophet, if not the Savior, himself. John had to repeatedly emphasize that Jesus was the one promised by Isaiah, the prophet:
“I am the voice of one calling in the desert: ‘Make straight the way for
the Lord.’
 ”.

In addition, St. John emphasized that the baptism of repentance that he gave them was to be followed by a greater baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was simply one pointing to The Light, but he was not The Christ, not The Light. St. John tells them that among them is someone they do not know and that He is the one to come after him. John humbly acknowledges that he is not worthy even to untie the sandals of the one who is to come, the True Light.

What a wonderful example John the Baptist is for us. How important it is for us to focus on the Lord and point to Him in our relationships with others. After all, just knowing the Lord is in itself a priceless gift. It is the best gift
we can give to another, providing he/she is open to it. 


I know of many who grieve over the fact that their adult children do not accept or appreciate this gift.  However, when the troubles of life begin to assail the young, they often recognize the gift that has been offered to them. Then, it becomes an anchor in the turbulent seas of life.

When I was campus minister at Aquinas College in Newton, Massachusetts, a student came to me and told me that her parents had never taken her to any church. One was Catholic and the other Protestant. She told me that she felt cheated with no faith experiences in her childhood.

After her experiences of campus ministry,  she asked to be baptized, so in her early 20’s, she finally had a church home. I share this with people who tell me that they are going to let their children make their own choices when they are adults. This young woman looking back felt cheated that she had not been introduced to Jesus in her childhood.

“Gaudete,” means “Rejoice” in Latin. We call this Sunday Gaudete Sunday because the celebration of the birth of Jesus is almost here. We are also reminded that this is the time for the final preparations for his birth in our hearts. We hear John the Baptist calling “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” In the busyness of Christmas shopping, etc. we need to be reminded of the “Reason for the Season.”

It is a time to anticipate with joy: Emmanuel, God with us. Some of my happiest memories of my campus ministry days at Xavier University of Louisiana were the Saturday evening Gospel Masses.  In particular, I still hear in my memory the following Advent hymn which was sung with much enthusiasm:

“Soon and Very Soon, We Are Going to See the King”

Soon and very soon, we’re going to see the King!
Soon and very soon, we’re going to see the King!
Soon and very soon, we’re going to see the King!
Alleluia,  Alleluia, we’re going to see the King!!!


 Reflection:  What final preparations do you plan to make in anticipation of Christmas?  Taking time to go to confession... Reaching out to someone for whom the holidays will be difficult... Sending a card or calling someone from whom you have become estranged... Ask the Lord what He would want of you, and listen deeply.


Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...

¡Alegrarse!

En el Evangelio de este domingo, encontramos a San Juan el Bautista nuevamente apuntando lejos de sí mismo y afirmando ser solo un testigo, testificando sobre la Luz que había de venir después de él. Cuando la gente reconoció la santidad del hombre, habían comenzado a pensar en él como un profeta, si no el Salvador, él mismo. Juan tuvo que enfatizar repetidamente que Jesús fue el prometido por Isaías, el profeta: “Soy la voz de uno que llama en el desierto: ‘Prepara el camino para
El Señor.’ ”.

Además, San Juan enfatizó que el bautismo de arrepentimiento que les dio debía ser seguido por un bautismo mayor del Espíritu Santo. Él era simplemente uno que apunta a La Luz, pero no era El Cristo, ni la Luz. San Juan les dice que entre ellos hay alguien a quien no conocen y que Él es el que viene después de él. Juan humildemente reconoce que no es digno incluso de desatar las sandalias de la persona que vendrá, la Luz verdadera.

Qué maravilloso ejemplo de Juan el Bautista es para nosotros. Cuán importante es para nosotros enfocarnos en el Señor y señalarle en nuestras relaciones con los demás. Después de todo, simplemente conocer al Señor es en sí mismo un regalo invaluable. Es el mejor regalo
podemos dar a otro, siempre que él / ella esté abierto a ello.

Conozco a muchos que lamentan el hecho de que sus hijos adultos no acepten ni aprecien este regalo. Sin embargo, cuando los problemas de la vida comienzan a atacar a los jóvenes, a menudo reconocen el regalo que se les ha ofrecido. Entonces, se convierte en un ancla en los mares turbulentos de la vida.

Cuando era ministro del campus en Aquinas College en Newton, Massachusetts, una estudiante vino a verme y me dijo que sus padres nunca la habían llevado a ninguna iglesia. Uno era católico y el otro protestante. Ella me dijo que se sintió engañada sin experiencias de fe en su infancia.

Después de sus experiencias de ministerio en el campus, pidió ser bautizada, así que cuando tenía 20 años, finalmente tuvo un hogar en la iglesia. Comparto esto con personas que me dicen que van a dejar que sus hijos tomen sus propias decisiones cuando sean adultos. Esta joven que mira hacia atrás se sintió engañada por no haber sido presentada a Jesús en su infancia.

“Gaudete” significa “Regocíjate” en latín. Llamamos a este domingo Domingo Gaudete porque la celebración del nacimiento de Jesús ya casi está aquí. También se nos recuerda que este es el momento de los preparativos finales para su nacimiento en nuestros corazones. Escuchamos a Juan el Bautista llamando “Preparen el camino del Señor”. En el ajetreo de las compras navideñas, etc., debemos recordar la “Razón de la temporada”.

Es un momento para anticipar con alegría: Emmanuel, Dios con nosotros. Algunos de mis recuerdos más felices de mis días en el ministerio universitario en la Universidad Xavier de Luisiana fueron las Misas del Evangelio del sábado
por la noche. En particular, todavía escucho en mi memoria el siguiente himno
de Adviento que fue cantado con mucho entusiasmo:

Pronto y Muy Pronto, Vamos a Ver El" ”

¡Pronto y muy pronto, vamos a ver al Rey!
¡Pronto y muy pronto, vamos a ver al Rey!
¡Pronto y muy pronto, vamos a ver al Rey!
¡Aleluya, Aleluya, vamos a ver al Rey!


 Pregunta de reflexión:  ¿Qué preparaciones finales planeas hacer en anticipación a la Navidad?  Tomarse el tiempo para ir a la confesión ... Llegar a alguien para quien las vacaciones serán difíciles ... Enviar una tarjeta o llamar a alguien de quien se ha distanciado ... Pregúntele al Señor lo que Él quiere de usted, y escuche profundamente.

2 comments:

  1. Sr. Annette, your commentaries on John the Baptist over the past two weeks have given me a much greater appreciation of him, and yes, he is a wonderful example for us. John lived a righteous life and was a zealous follower of Jesus. Today on the radio I heard a comment that went something like, a joyful heart is delightful but a broken spirit can take a person to the depths of their souls. When we share the Good News of Jesus with a hurting soul it not only makes us feel happier but it can result in healing of the distressed person. That is a very motivating reason to talk to others about the Lord. Interestingly, Pastor Rick Warren says that Satan knows that one of the greatest sources of joy in life is when we share the love of Christ with an unbeliever. So he makes us afraid to tell people about Jesus by making us worry more about our popularity than pleasing God. Regrettably, I can recall times when that held true for me. Now I pray for unabashed courage to talk about the Lord.
    You noted that sharing Jesus with others is a gift if they are open to it. John the Baptist had many followers; however, he also had his share of cynics and experienced a great deal of resistance. His appearance probably drew criticism and his message of repentance of sins undoubtedly made many people uncomfortable. As we know, it cost him his life. John stayed the course because he knew that he spoke the truth. John spent a lot of time in the wilderness and was able to sense the Presence of God. Hearing the voice of truth in today’s distracted, chaotic world is very hard to do – there is a lot of noise and there are many voices calling to us. I am reminded of the musical “Godspell” and a song contained in it – “Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord.” The people were absorbed in their daily lives but John’s voice was loud, persistent and engaging. It caught their attention and drew them in. Perhaps what they had in common was a longing for connection to Truth. These motley individuals were transformed into a community of followers of Jesus.
    Through Baptism we are welcomed into the church community. I believe that God sanctioned that initiation when He led His Son to be baptized by John the Baptist. Both of my adult sons have stopped going to Mass and their choice makes me very sad. They make it clear that it is a closed subject but I urge them to keep a relationship with God because they will find that connection very comforting someday.
    I recently read a Reflection entitled, “The Paradox and the Promise,” by Fr. Ronald Raab, in which he refers to Advent as a “unique season of longing” in which we must become “vulnerable as infants.” He mentions some of his parishioners – a recently widowed man who now sits alone in the pew he shared with his wife for decades; the wide-shouldered high school hero who wept uncontrollably at his mother’s funeral a week before; a recently sober woman with heavy red lipstick on quivering lips as tears reveal her search for Jesus in her newly found humility. I found this account so touching. “Advent reveals our search for Jesus,” states Fr. Raab. “We all receive the Word, sometimes with deflecting hearts and hardened attitudes. Jesus invites us to be humble enough to accept His love, forgiveness, and peace.”
    Your reflection question offers doable suggestions for pointing to Jesus. I am eagerly anticipating attending an Advent retreat this coming week. I look forward to hearing the Lord’s voice in this “wilderness time.” I will offer a prayer for your intentions and for those of your readers. Like John the Baptist, let’s stay the course in preparing for the Lord’s coming in this time of shopping, decorating, cleaning and baking for soon, yes, very soon, we will see the King. Pat C., ASBS

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  2. Sr. Therese M. Warner, SBSDecember 12, 2017 at 9:02 AM

    "Soon, and very soon, we're going to see the King." What an ideal expression of the Advent spirit! It is easy to understand why you remember those experiences so fondly, Sister. They really must have been touching.

    The following excerpts, related to the third Sunday of Advent, are from a communication from the Association of Catholic Priests:

    "The liturgy of this third Sunday of Advent is full of comfort and joy. In our Latin past it was called 'Gaudete Sunday'... The liturgy bids us to be happy, not to worry,
    for Lord is near; and if we want the peace of God in our hearts, that peace will be ours if we trustfully ask God for it. St. Paul says 'There is no need to worry, but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving.' He tells us not to wait until after God has granted our requests before saying thanks. Even as we ask, we should be giving thanks. One of the things to thank God for at the end of this year is all the good done by so many good people in our time."

    "People were prepared to walk all the way from Jerusalem down near Jerico in the deep Jordan valley on the edge of the desert - all of 15 miles each way - in order to see John, the charismatic figure living as an ascetic in the desert around the Dead Sea. Having heard him, many stayed to be baptized by him; but they were full of the uncertainty that can surface in all of us if we take time to cast a critical eye on the kind of life we are living.
    'What must we do?' they asked him, and John spelled out the answer in no uncertain terms. 'Love and do what you will' ... - meaning that if people have total inner commitment to God, they will know instinctively what is right from the promptings of the Spirit within them."

    "Prayerfully then, and in the presence of God, let us give thanks to the Father in this mass for the gift of his divine Son, Who in its celebration makes us one with Himself. Let us ask for the peace of God, as sacred scripture urges us, for that abiding peace which is so much greater than anything this world can ever offer us; and we can be assured that for all who do this the reward will be everlasting."




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