Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday
"If anyone has not had a real experience of salvation which we are all being called to share in our lives here and now," ... if anyone has not yet had that experience, then we might easily say that Christmas has never really come into that person's life. Words of another priest who reflects on this particular Sunday.
His message reflects the truest meaning of bring Jesus, the Christ Child, into our lives. We must recall this Child is the "Jesus who makes us whole." The joy of the Christmas season is that this Child Jesus it is who frees us from different experiences of captivity that at times overtake our hearts, our lives.
Perhaps the "Gaudete" imperative does not have the significance for us that it did at the time when this special Sunday in Advent occurred. Remember that in earlier days much more prayer and fasting was the tone of the Advent season. The Church established this particular Sunday as a reminder of the reason for the various penitential practices. There was much more attention to the reality of sin in personal lives.
We are called, like the moon for the last few nights, to be great reflectors not so much of the sun but rather of the SON of God, the Light of the world. We are called by our baptisms and incorporation into our Church to bring this Jesus into the experience of others' lives.
And how so? Return to the Isaiah reading: " ... to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the hearts that are broken, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison ...." Nicely said but how do we fulfill these challenges?
Reach out to those who are poor either spiritually or materially. There is so much poverty even in our nation of great abundance. How many are suffering social ills, emotional chains, intellectual struggles with the truth. These are individuals who are unable to overcome those realities that drain their spiritual reservoirs. How can I reach out to those whose lives are miserable experiences because of obsessions or addictions? How can I help someone who has lost the reason for living or has turned his or her life over to play at sex but cannot know true love? How can I reflect the love of Jesus Christ to those who lives are eaten away by unhealthy isolation or painful loneliness?
The Lord has come to set us free from these same burdens. We partake of these graces perhaps so often we come to overlook how blessed we truly are! Let us truly endeavor to reach out to those who are waiting for Jesus to come to them ... but do not know it!
Reach out! It is the only way to enjoy fully the joy of Christmas. Gaudete! Gaudete!