Sunday 17 December 2017
Advent Season of Creation. Third Sunday of Advent. Week III Psalter. St Damasus I.
Isaiah 61:1 2, 10-11. Luke 1:46-50, 53-54. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. John 1:6-8, 19-28.
My soul rejoices in my God – Luke 1:46-50, 53-54. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. John 1:6-8, 19.
Becoming Joyful, becoming more human.
So often we approach our faith as a set of rules that need to be obeyed.
Today is Gaudete, or Rejoice, Sunday. In the words of the second reading “Rejoice…for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” This points to another essential element in the story of Advent – that we are in loving relationship with God, while we are still “sinners” and, if taken seriously, this is truly cause for humble celebration!
Pope Francis reminds us that the gospel – and our interactions with each other- are intended to be joyful. Ignatius, speaking centuries ago, similarly reminded us that the normal state of a human being is to be giving thanks to God for our lives.
But how can we give thanks when we feel so wronged? How can we rejoice when we feel we just do not come up to expectation? How can we rejoice when my daily struggle to live and provide makes life barely survivable?
True celebration acknowledges the darkness and accepts its reality: it does not try to deny it but rather says that our story in relationship with God is far bigger. We therefore should ask God to help us answer the practical questions of dealing with the results of wrongdoing, ours or someone else’s. And as a community we can increase our efforts to help each other, and especially the poor and vulnerable, live more human lives. We can also ask our governments to find ways to create more space economically and socially for the vulnerable and for families.
Today Isaiah stresses the salvation from God is for all; it is natural to want to express this outwardly and when we do it lessens fear!
Such a joy can never be born out of domination over others or from being unhealthily submissive – no, we rejoice that God has given us life with all other people, potentially, as gifts.
It is at this time we might pray to give thanks for our planet – for what it has been able to provide us – A simple prayer of thanks at dinner – even in a restaurant! – brings to mind that everything we eat has at one time been growing or reared, then has been prepared by someone. With this thanks we can build a sense of wonder and respect, and with respect we begin to care more, for each other and our common home.