Are you wondering why this coming Sunday (Dec. 13)  is called Gaudete Sunday? It is the third Sunday of Advent and the Church encourages us to rejoice because the Lord is near. Gaudete means rejoice.

You may be saying: “What, rejoice? I have too much to do and I am not happy that Christmas is near.” Relax, it will all get done. It always does. This might be a good time to put things into perspective. If you are yelling at the kids and testy with the adults in your life, what have you accomplished? Why not refocus on the coming of Jesus Christ and slow down long enough to acknowledge how you need the Prince of Peace this year.

We would do well to carefully read the first reading today from the Prophet Zephaniah:

“Shout for joy, daughter Zion! sing joyfully, Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart, daughter Jerusalem!h
The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, Zion, do not be discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior,
Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love,
Who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days.” 3: 14 – 18a.

With all that is going on in our world and in our lives this message of hope and reassurance is a welcome word. The Lord is in our midst so do not be afraid and do not become discouraged.

Then Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians tells us to rejoice in the Lord. Why? Because the Lord is near. “Have no anxiety at all… Then the God of peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” 4: 4 – 7.

Finally, in the Gospel the people ask John the Baptist what they should do to get ready for the coming of the Lord. Essentially he tells them to care for those most in need. You do that and you do that well. Thanks.

The people were filled with expectation. They were looking for meaning and purpose in their lives. They wanted to have reason to hope. And they were not disappointed. Jesus did come and he did love them. Jesus is coming and He does love us. Are you filled with expectation?

Fr. Jim