Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent, 3rd Sunday - Homily

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again. Rejoice”.

Every year on January 22 before the March for Life, there is a youth rally and Mass at the Verizon Center. Over 20,000 teens from all over the country are there; in the past few years, they have had overflow crowds. This year, they will use both the Verizon Center and Constitution Hall. There will be about 30,000 kids there! It is really a great celebration. There is music, singing, and dancing, as the youth celebrate and get pumped up for life. A couple of years ago, one of the workers at the Verizon Center, after seeing the huge crowd so excited for a couple of hours, asked one of my friends: “all the people that were here…they were Catholic?” We are not usually known for our rejoicing and excitement.

This Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, is a day that we rejoice. “Gaudete” literally means “rejoice”. We hear it throughout the readings. In the second reading is St. Paul’s line which I have already said: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again. Rejoice”. And, the first reading: “Shout for joy”…“sing joyfully”…“be glad”…“exult”. In the Gospel, we hear that John the Baptist preached the “good news” that the Savior is near. We know the word “gospel” means “good news”.

But, how often do we individuals, as a parish, and as a Church truly rejoice in our faith? How often do we sing for joy and exult in the Lord? In thinking about this question, an analogy came to mind. It might work for some and not for others because it involves the Redskins. And, it might not be hard to imagine based on the season that they’ve had. But, imagine if the Redskins had many, many losing seasons in a row…like 3,000! 3,000 years when they couldn’t do much right at all, had losing records, and didn’t make the playoffs. Year after year, there didn’t seem to be much hope at all, and it was a very dark time.

Then, an announcement was made…news came out that the Redskins had made a draft pick who was an amazing college player! All the scouts agreed, this guy would turn around the Redskins. He would be the “savior” of the franchise. We know that Redskins fans would rejoice in just the news of this draft pick! This is similar to John the Baptist’s announcement that the real Savior is coming, that the Lord is near.

Then, let’s say that the draft pick starts playing in games, and he does, in fact, turn around the Redskins. They start winning games, make it to the playoffs, and then the Super Bowl. How much would Redskins fans rejoice? We know that we would be going nuts! There would be much rejoicing and exulting, and we would indeed be glad. Now, dare I say, this is just football.

In Jesus, we’re talking about the Savior of the world! We’re talking about life, and eternal life. People waited for thousands of years for the Savior…they waited for a chance to get to Heaven. They waited for the forgiveness of their sins. This is what Jesus brings when he comes.

How much more should we as Catholics rejoice in all that we have in the Lord’s coming. Do we rejoice in the forgiveness of our sins? Will we rejoice at the Penance Service on Tuesday night as we receive reconciliation with God and one another? Do we realize and appreciate this awesome gift Christ has given us in this sacrament? When we come to Mass, do we rejoice that God speaks to us in the Liturgy of the Word? Do we rejoice when we see with the eyes of faith the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ? Do our hearts rejoice when Christ’s flesh comes into our bodies and souls?

Let us rejoice and be glad as we receive our Lord. He is near. For us, he is as near as the tabernacle. Let us rejoice in God’s coming among us. Let us rejoice in God’s love and mercy in the person of Jesus Christ.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again. Rejoice”.

1 comment:

GW student said...

Is there any scriptures that describes what heaven will be truly like?