My dear parish family,
It is hard to believe that we are already celebrating the Third Sunday of Advent. Traditionally this Sunday is called “Gaudete Sunday” from the Latin word meaning to “rejoice.” The entrance antiphon for the Mass calls us to “Rejoice in the Lord, always: again, I say, rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.”
This weekend, we light the rose color candle on our Advent wreath and the priest wears rose color vestments symbolizing the joy we are called to experience as Advent is almost over and Christmas is drawing near. It is good for us to focus on the joy that only the Lord can bring us. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, the anxieties of life, and the pressure we may feel to have everything done in time for Christmas, it is important that we slow down and remember once again the real reason for the season: Jesus, born to be our Savior. Jesus the Son of God, the Word made Flesh, the One who dispels the darkness of sin and brings us the light of God’s unconditional love… Jesus our Redeemer...Emmanuel…God who is with us!
As a Church we exist solely to proclaim to the world that God became man in Jesus Christ to forgive our sins and to restore our relationship to the Father. Everything else – the Church’s moral teaching, its hierarchical structure, its charities – exists for no other reason than to help us bring Jesus Christ into the world and to make Him known. That is why the Church’s message is called “Good News!” It is the joyful proclamation that God loves us, that He knows us by name, that He sees our struggles, sufferings and hardships, and that He has come to save us.
The essence of the Christian message, then, is that “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son not to condemn the world but to save it.” It is our duty as Christians to share this “Good News” with others, especially those who are hurting or struggling in any way, and to invite others to join us at the table of the Lord and to receive the grace of the sacraments. This Advent and Christmas season, please join me in prayer and also through personal invitation, inviting those people whom you know need to be welcomed home here to St. Peter’s and St. Bernard’s.
We celebrate a God who does not keep His distance from us, but is within us and all around us. Too often we lose sight of Him because of our rigid ideas and narrow expectations. Today we are being called to broaden our vision and raise our eyes to a God who is always greater than we can hope or imagine.
“Rejoice in the Lord, always: again, I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near!” May God bless you and your loved ones with a joyous Christmas!