The Latin, “gaudete” means “re-joice.” Do joy over again. Maybe repeatedly. It comes from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for this 3rd Advent Sunday. The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.” This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of the Advent wreath, which is rose colored, and the rose-colored vestments often used at the Eucharist.
The second part of Advent begins on December 17th each year – this year, in 2020 it is Thursday. For the last eight days before Christmas, the shape of the readings changes. A great way to kick start this second part of Advent is to follow the daily readings even if you cannot attend the Mass. Many parishioners are doing this from their homes in these COVID days. Continue to pray Evening prayer with the friars at 5PM Sundays from your home.
The first readings are still from the prophecies, but now the gospels are from the infancy stories of Matthew and Luke. Each tells it differently. Mark and John do not have any birth stories. We read the accounts of faithful women and men who prepared the way for our salvation. We linger a bit on the familiar story of how Jesus’ life began. These ancient narratives are filled with hints of what his life will mean for us. Faith and generosity overcome impossibility. Poverty and persecution reveal glory.
In a particularly inspired section of “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis wrote: “True faith in the incarnate Son of God is inseparable from self-giving, from membership in the community, from service, from ” reconciliation with others.” The pope continued, “The Son of God by becoming flesh summoned us to a “REVOLUTION OF TENDERNESS.” Much tenderness to enjoy in the coming days, in our homes. The pope offered an indulgence this year for Guadalupe Feast from home, a kind of first special infusion of grace. She is the closest sign of this tenderness in our part of the world. Thanks to all who made our wonderful serenade in the plaza on Friday night, followed by the “Misa de Rosas in honor of Juan Diego.”
We “prepare the way,” this week by acknowledging the tenderness that occasionally moves through our lives. Sometimes it is subtle, attached to people and events and we forget to notice. At other times it knocks us off our feet. We move through this week sensing a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand. And so, we consciously ask:” Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope which his presence will bestow.” “Pre-joice” is to permit the joy of God’s presence who preoccupies the sacred spaces of our lives and our world…in.
Our Communal Penance service is on Saturday, Dec. 19th at 3PM. Sinners are particularly welcome. We three friar priests will be available for confessions socially distanced and masked. Check the ongoing scheduling of Christmas Masses as we adapt to the changing landscape of the pandemic. The “Misa del Gallo,” the Mass of the Rooster at Midnight will be celebrated with candlelight and carols… Much to “PRE-JOY.”
A gentle week.
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM