Third Sunday of Advent
December 13, 2015 – Year C
Readings: Zep 3:14-18a / Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6 / Phil 4:4-7 / Lk 3:10-18
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
While I was waiting for my food at one of the local fast food restaurants yesterday morning, I had the wonderful opportunity to see living examples of why the town of Bedford deserves its title of “The Christmas Capital of the State of Virginia”. It is not only the beautiful display of lights, which are one of the best in the state, but because of the people who live here. There was an elderly couple, or if I may use the words of St. Luke: “a couple advanced in years”, who were so vibrant, spreading the joy of the season by just being themselves, and greeting everyone with “Merry Christmas”.
I really needed that yesterday morning because, I woke up late, I was hungry, and I could feel the impatience of the others around me who were also waiting for their food. This couple who came by us, made a big difference in how we felt that morning. After they left the restaurant, greeting everyone on their way out, I was reminded of the second reading today, which is taken from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and I shall say it again, Rejoice.” Then he added, “Have no anxiety at all.”
We all know that life is challenging. As long as we are still breathing, we will always have problems and challenges, so is it possible not to be anxious or to worry? St. Paul made this suggestion in the following verse. “With thanksgiving, make your request known to God.”
Going back to the couple that I mentioned, they surely have the attitude of gratitude. Yesterday morning, they were grateful that we had a beautiful day—70 degrees in the winter. They were happy that there were so many people there, and also grateful that it is Christmas. This reminds us of the good news. Today’s Psalm, which is taken from chapter 12 of the book of the prophet Isaiah, reminds us that we should cry out with joy and gladness, for the Lord is in our midst. At this very moment, the Lord is in our midst—body, blood, soul, and divinity—in the Eucharist.
Even after Mass, as we go forth, the Lord Jesus will always be with us. Every time that we pray together, He promises that, “I will be with you. Where two or more are gathered together in my name, I am in your midst.” This is the reason for us to rejoice. Today, the Third Sunday in Advent, is also called “Rejoice Sunday” or “Gaudete Sunday”. It reminds us, despite all the trials and tribulations that may come our way, God is in charge. Today, this is what our Holy Mother Church is reminding us: that we are surrounded by God’s family—that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, loves us unconditionally. He gave us His only begotten Son to save us. This is why we have a celebration called Christmas.
Abraham Lincoln once said that most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. We are all here, inside the sanctuary of Holy Name of Mary, because we all made up our minds that we will be happy with God, not only throughout our lives here on earth, but for all eternity. In the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, the apostle, who was in jail at the time he wrote this letter, gave us a formula of how we can continue rejoicing, and have an attitude of gratitude in this confused universe and in the midst of the darkness of the world. You may want to read it—Philippians 4:8. St. Paul said, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”