This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday; a day to rejoice! In fact, Gaudete means rejoice. We’re halfway to Christmas, and that’s nothing to sneeze at! Our scripture readings today reflect that joy and recall the “jubilee” spirit that Jesus brought with him when he became one of us.
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This Second Sunday of Advent, we hear a message of peace so profound, all of nature is affected by it. And the most interesting part of this is the linkage between the peace of God and the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…but before we get there, we have a whole season of Advent to get through! The Church, in her wisdom, designed a time of slowing down and reflection in what is for most people one of the busiest times of year. Today we begin that season, and also the new liturgical year (cycle A—which means we’ll hear a lot of the Gospel of Matthew throughout the year).
Ever since the Solemnity of Christ the King became Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe; I can’t help but thing of He-Man, Master of the Universe whenever I hear it. But, Jesus is more powerful than any superhero and his authority is perfect. We are reminded of this as we close out the liturgical year, and prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming throughout the season of Advent.
It’s November—the month that we remember our Saints, our beloved dead, and we get ready to close out the liturgical year. This weekend’s readings engage all of these themes, preparing us for what is to come.
God’s extravagant love for us is on display in this week’s readings. From the first reading to the Gospel, God’s tenderness and mercy are brought in a personal way to Zacchaeus . . . and to all of us.
This is the second week in a row that our readings focus on prayer. Why? Because it’s that important. The readings focus on three aspects of prayer: God’s response to them, God’s faithfulness to us when we call out to God, and the posture that we should take when approaching God—absolute openness and truth.
Persistence is certainly a virtue, but to get there, we have to be on guard against weariness. It’s so easy to become weary—weary in our prayer, in our work, in our daily lives, in the sad and sometimes scary stories that come to us in the news. Today, God gives us three stories about protecting ourselves from becoming weary.
The common theme in Sunday’s readings is that everyone has access to God’s healing power—you, me, non-believers, believers in other gods—everybody. God’s love is so far beyond the categories that we like to make for ourselves, and God takes his love so far that our gratitude is not a prerequisite for the gifts God gives.