"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice." With these words of the entrance antiphon the theme of today’s liturgy is firmly established.
It is a theme that makes sense only within the context of the message of repentance that was stressed during the first two weeks of Advent ...during which we were reminded to put our spiritual house in order.
If advisable, to make a good sacramental confession; to reassess our priorities; and now, to rejoice because we are ready. Ready to savor the expectation of the blessings that are sure to follow.
Real blessings like peace of mind born of confidence in the big picture. A peace of mind that cannot be dislodged no matter how distressing the immediate scene or the perceived future.
Are YOU refreshed and ready to rejoice in the Lord? I hope so!
The liturgy, or the life giving cycle of the Church, like the seasons of nature, moves right along on its own steam and it is up to us to keep in step or at least to pick up the step, or, quite frankly, to suffer the consequences.
We might be able to escape responsibility for our harmful attitudes, actions and reactions during our lifetime; but we cannot escape the final judgement and whatever follows upon it.
Now this might sound a little heavy but it is emphatically not a message of doom unless, of course, one freely, knowingly and finally rejects it.
What it is, if we take it seriously and embrace it, is a message of liberation, of peace and of joy.
The Good News, The Gospel is not a warm fuzzy potion designed to make us feel good about ourselves ...a paste-on happy-face that helps us to get through the tougher days.
The Gospel is about repentance, forgiveness, recovering, healing, renewing.
Like blind people recovering their sight, like people with disabilities walking again, like people with disease cured, like people with deafness beginning to hear, like people who have died rising to life ...and all they represent, all of us with our limitations.
Let us, then, offer God in Christ Jesus thanks and praise as through this holy celebration we prepare ourselves for the gladness that comes with restoration.
As you know, despite the sameness in the framework OF every Christmas, there is always a newness, a freshness IN every Christmas such as only God can bring.
Glory to God and peace to his beloved people in whom He never loses hope.