Third Sunday in Advent Gaudete Sunday

Dec 18, 2018

     On this Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday, the theme that runs through the epistle today is the element of Joy!  The reading to the Philippians told us all to rejoice!  Our kindness should be known to all, have no anxiety at all, for the Lord is near!  In Latin, Gaudete, means “to rejoice, or be filled with joy!”

     The rose color vestments, and roses help us to reflect on this element of joy as we prepare for the Lord’s birth.  Yet, just what do we mean when we say a person is a joyful or joy-filled person.  Well, I can say that I don’t know anyone who does not like being around a cheerful and pleasant type of person.  They seem to radiate a certain inner glow which makes itself felt in any group of which they are apart.  When they are around, the sun seems to shine a little brighter.  People smile more easily, speak more gently.  This we can say is a joy-filled person!

     Also, I believe I could guarantee everyone here could be joyful no matter what, if you practiced something on a daily basis.  This is something we all can do if we but take the time to do it, and that is, if we spend some time each day going over our blessings God has given us, we all could be the joyful person everyone wants to be around.

     Now, I could never know each person’s list of blessings, but as Roman Catholics I could list some of our greatest blessings we all have been given through the Sacraments of our Faith.

     We start with what we know are called the Sacraments of Initiation; Baptism; the Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation.  These three fully unite us with not only Almighty God, but with each believing member of the Church.

     In the Sacrament of Baptism, it blesses us because we become the adopted chosen of God through Christ.  Original Sin is removed, the soul is flooded with the light of God’s grace, purging away all sin, and opening for us the doors of heaven.  Just to think of this should fill us with joy!

      Once baptized and when we reach the age of reason, usually about seven years of age, we then can receive the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ, the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist.  There is no way on earth that we can unite ourselves with Almighty God any more closely while we still live than when we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.  I don’t know if you realize this, but the angels themselves are jealous of us who can unite ourselves to God in this way.  The Holy Eucharist is called the Sacrament of Love, and as many saints have said that if we fully realized just how much God loves us in the Most Blessed Sacrament we would die of Joy! What a blessing and cause for joy!

     The Sacrament of Confirmation blesses because it seals our baptismal commitment and gives us a special grace and a special power of the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in our divine adoption as God’s sons and daughters, incorporating us more firmly into Christ, strengthening our bond with the Church, associating us more closely with her mission, helping us to bear witness to our faith in words accompanied by deeds. Our witness should always be one that  shares this great joy with everyone we come in contact with!

     The Sacrament of Matrimony unites each couple not only with themselves but with Almighty God.  For Marriage in the Christian context is triune.  As the love between the members of the Trinity is shared one with the other, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; so the love of God is shared between each couple as they share their love for one another.  Marriage we can say is then Trinitarian and a blessing each couple needs to remain true to their marital covenant in Christ. If you want a joy filled marriage then you must practice loving your spouse before yourself on a daily basis!

      The Sacrament of Holy Orders blesses not only the man who becomes a bishop, priest or deacon, but all of us through which we can receive the light and grace of the sacraments themselves through their vocations. The deacon of coarse cannot offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, anoint, or absolve sins. The priest acts in “Persona Christi”, or in the person of Christ, and it is Christ who consecrates, blesses or absolves through the priest.  The bishop possesses the fullness of orders as he receives the third laying on of hands, for the 1st was when he was ordained a deacon, the 2nd when he was ordained a priest, and the 3rd when ordained a bishop. To his previous power to offer the Mass and to forgive sins there is now the added power to administer Confirmation, and the exclusive power to administer the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the power to ordain other priests and consecrate other bishops. What a joy to pass on the gift of Holy Orders or what is also called the apostolic succession!

     The Sacrament of Penance is such a blessing because when received it restores our baptismal purity.  Sins are purged and we once more are united to God by his sanctifying grace.  However, most Catholics forget about the temporal punishment that remains for each sin committed and forgiven in the confessional, that everyone must appease God’s Divine Justice.  In other words, the Sacrament of Penance is not a get out of jail free pass.

     Each sin that we are sorry for and forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance carries with it a divine justice price tag.  We all must show God how sorry we are for our sins that have been forgiven not just by confessing them, but by attending more Holy Masses, praying various devotions like Adoration, the holy rosary and the stations of the cross, loving God in our neighbor, giving alms to help the poor.  In other words, doing our best to right the wrongs we have done or failed to do right in life. Joy is the result of sins forgiven and divine justice appeased fully!

      The last of the seven Sacraments is the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and Dying.  What a blessing to receive this sacrament as we prepare to leave this earth.  Our soul is fortified or strengthened and given a great peace because this sacrament prepares the soul to meet Christ the Just Judge.  It absolves us from sin and gives us the grace to leave this world free from what could be our eternal punishment, and instead affords us eternal peace and happiness.

     As I said, if we count our blessings each day they should make us joyful, or a joy filled person, if we but stop and think a moment too about the joy our Catholic faith affords us, giving us all the most means of attaining eternal life, then wouldn’t you agree with me that there shouldn’t ever be a day that goes by that is not joyful, no matter what!!!