Rejoicing in Humility | Friar Reflections | Third Sunday of Advent

Dear Parishioners,

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

Today is called “Gaudete (Let us rejoice!) Sunday” perhaps because of the opening phrase in the second reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (5:16-24) “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” Beautiful words, but then we tend to misread the next sentence that says, “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you.” Notice, we don’t need to give thanks for ALL circumstances, but rather whatever the circumstance we are called to give thanks. Gratitude seems to be God’s will for us and, no matter the circumstances, there is still a lot to give thanks for.

While reflecting on this, it took me a while to get the deeper message in all the readings when using this idea of rejoicing as a lens. It seems to me that most important aspect of our call to rejoice is the fact that God knows each of us as we are in our entirety. “God looks upon his lowly servant” as we sing in today’s responsorial, which is Mary’s Magnificat, found in the Gospel according to Luke (1:46-54). God knows we are lowly and yet, does great things for us, has mercy upon us, fills us with good things, and comes to our help. Perhaps God does all these things for us so that we might accept our lowliness and thus respond with rejoicing and gratitude. Everything that God does for us is grace, a gift, an unmerited favor which should lead each of us to an honest humility.

The Baptist in today’s Gospel according to John (1:6-8, 19-28) is faced with the temptation to make himself something that he is not. When asked if he is the Christ, he answers no. When asked if he is Elijah, or the Prophet, he answers no. He is not the Light, but the one who testifies to the Light. He is simply a voice crying out “Prepare!” I admire John, for it seems to me it is easy to fall into the trap of making yourself greater than you actually are.

True discipleship begins with humility that allows the Holy Spirit to enter one’s life. It is humility that continues to sustain the Spirit working within us, and it is humility that will in the end allow us to accept the promised mercy of God.

We rejoice in that we are all anointed with the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. As we near the end of our Advent, let us take the time for gratitude for all God has done for us. Let us take the time to rejoice that we don’t need to be perfect, but rather that as imperfect we are loved by God and are anointed with the Holy Spirit. So let us “rejoice heartily in the Lord (for) in my God is the joy of my soul” (Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11).

Peace and All Good,
Fr. Steve