Rejoice in the Lord
Father Dominic Mary Garner, MFVA
Homily given at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, AL
7 am Mass, 16 December 2007, 3rd Sunday of Advent — Gaudete
Gaudete in Domino Semper! — Rejoice in the Lord always; Again I say rejoice! The Lord is near (Entrance Antiphon; cf. Phil 4:4-5)!
Today, being the third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate Gaudete or “Rejoice” Sunday. Festive, rose-colored vestments, instead of the violet. The reason we call this Sunday Gaudete Sunday is that the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass begins with the Latin: Gaudete in Domino Semper, which means, Rejoice in the Lord always.
The words rejoice and joy appear over a hundred times each throughout the Old and the New Testaments of the Holy Bible. (In the Old Testament they appear in the Psalms, Proverbs, Sirach, Tobit, Isaiah, Zechariah, Joel, and others.) In the New Testament they are used by our Lord several times in His parables and His other teachings, by Saints Peter and Paul, and is part of Mary’s Magnificat.
Specifically, today, the Church wants us to rejoice in hope of the Savior’s coming and to look forward with longing to His return at the end of time (Alternative Opening Prayer). And so, the theme for the proper parts of today’s Holy Mass deal with rejoicing in the Lord — Christian joy — as well as the mission of St. John the Baptist and his connection with Advent (cf. Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass, no. 93).
Today’s readings also speak of being patient, of being strong and fearing not — for our Lord comes to save us. That when He returns it will be in the midst of singing, gladness and everlasting joy.
It is a true story of the triumph of the good over evil. And for those who are on the side of good it is a time to remain firm in faith, hope and love.
Recently someone pointed out to me — he said to me, “Father, did you know that we live in the age of sterilization.” I said, “what do you mean?” He said, “you know we in are a culture in which we have sterilized everything.” After talking to him I realized he made a very good point — that while it is good to sterilize some things, like surgical instruments — his main point was that we have sterilized our culture of most of what is good: of God, of happiness, of children, of joy, of life, of love, etc.
Now with all this being said, you and I must remain ever vigilant in Christian joy.
We may have to face things like The Golden Compass, which for those who don’t know, is the first in the line of movies recently released which is based on a series of books called His Dark Materials by the author Philip Pullman. In fact, Bishop Baker just released a Letter on The Golden Compass.
Ultimately, the books are meant to lead children to invite demonic forces into their life, to reject God and to be immoral.
All of this made me think of the recent words of Cardinal Diaz, the papal envoy sent by the Holy Father to Lourdes for the opening of the jubilee year of the Marian apparitions in Lourdes. He said, that while we currently find ourselves in a battle between the forces of good and evil, the Blessed Virgin Mary is weaving a network of spiritual sons and daughters in order to launch a strong offensive against the deadly forces and to prepare for the final victory of her divine Son Jesus Christ (cf. address by Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization of People, December 11, 2007, Lourdes, France).
Isn’t it interesting how we see the culture of sterilization and the sons and daughters of the Immaculate Conception engaged in a fierce battle.
You and I must remain joyful in these times. Why? Because we rejoice in the hope of the Savior of the world. Evil can’t do anything to me unless I let it by a free choice. But if I stay close to the Eucharist, Mary and the Church and remain in Christ I am on the road to victory, no matter what happens. I have hope, which leads to joy!