Liturgical Year C

Third Sunday of Advent; Rejoice

Today's readings are full of joy and wishes for happiness. Just take a look at the beginning of the first and second reading. Prophet Zephaniah acclaims: Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! and St. Paul in his epistle to the Philippians writes: I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Even the liturgical name for this third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete – Rejoice.

However, maybe this Sunday you are not in a good mood or even worse you are really sad because you are (or somebody you love is) ill, maybe you have just lost your job, maybe you are depressive... But in spite of all that there is still a reason for joy because our God, who is full of surprises, can change all of this. In fact very first reason for our Christmas joy is sin. You don’t believe me? I’ll quote one of my fellow Jesuits (maybe one of the most famous one) Antony de Mello to explain this: Sin is obviously something that we must hate and avoid. Yet we can praise God even for our sins when we have repented, because he will draw great good from them. And so the Church, in an ecstasy of love, will sing at the Easter liturgy: “O happy fault.... O necessary sin of Adam!” And Saint Paul explicitly tells the Romans: “Where sin increased, God’s grace increased much more... What shall we say, then? That we should continue to live in sin so that God’s grace will increase? Certainly not!” (Rom 5:20; 6:1). Very probably Jesus will never create a man without a sin. It’s strange, but it gives us hope – even if we know that the most certain way to be in Jesus presence is not to sin, there is a seed of hope in our every sin as well! So how not to be full of joy and happiness in this time when we are waiting for the best Christmas present that our heavenly Father can give us – his only Son – the best proof that He really love us.

It is so important to have experience that I’m really a beloved God’s creature. Honestly, it took me quite a while to believe in His love for me, the person that I am. Today the text I’ve quoted below, which used to scandalise me, brings me enormous hope and joy. Now for me there is no doubt – my heavenly Father really wants to offer me his Son as a proof of his love to me as I am. That’s the reason why I’m very attentive to the propositions of today’s Gospel how to welcome that precious gift. I think that it is so evident to everybody that you don’t need any high theological formation to understand that the best preparation for Christmas is living you life in the best way you can. Nothing more, nothing less and I’ve found it hard enough – trying to be a good priest in my personal prayer, my apostolate, my relations with my fellow Jesuits (especially with those who annoy me)...

But it’s worthy and even this hard preparations make me happy and peaceful. And if you still ask me why I am so sure that God loves me so much here is the answer: Saint Benedict, Saint Dominic, Saint Francis, and Saint Ignatius joined together to send an e-mail to God, asking whom He loves most. The Lord’s reply: “I equally love all.” Signed: God, S.J. (From This Terrible Jesuit by Harold J. Rahm, S.J.)

Dublin, 2012.

14.12.2012.Author: p. Antun Volenik, SJ
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