Third Sunday of Advent
Luke 3: 10-18

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” (Entrance Antiphon)

The Third Sunday of Advent has been given the name Gaudete Sunday or Rejoice Sundaybecause, as the entrance antiphon in the Tridentine Liturgy used to announce: “The Lord is near!” Rose-colored vestments may be worn by the Presider at Liturgy today and the readings for today take a break from the penitential to the joyous in anticipation of the Lord’s coming.

Joy is defined by my on-line dictionary as: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. My own definition of joy has been: the happiness or delight caused by having everything the way it should be.

My Mom loved to have visitors in the house at this time of the year – or at anytime of the year, for that matter. When someone was coming to visit she would be busy as a bee. The living room or even the rec room downstairs would be given an extra touch of care and dusting so everything was just right. The crystal cookie platter would make an exceptional appearance full of her homemade season specialties. A bottle of wine would be cooling in the refrigerator. When all was set and the visitors arrived, Mom was happy and full of joy. What a gal!

Someone special is coming into our homes, our hearts, in a matter of a few days. The Gospel story for today from St. Luke gives us a hint as to the preparation that should be made so things will be as Jesus would have them be. He tells us that if we have two coats we should share with the person who has no coat at all. If we have food and someone else has none, we are to share what we have. We are to serve others, share with others, love our neighbor as the Good Samaritan showed us. This is Jesus’ way; it is as things should be and it brings joy to the Lord and to us.

And let us not forget to put our “homes,” our hearts, into proper order with a bit of dusting. A guest is coming. Jesus is near. Let us rejoice that our Redeemer comes to live with us in our home as human. May this coming bring us all the light of his holiness and his blessings of freedom. Then everything will be as it should be and we can all REJOICE!

Fr. Howard

Monday of the Third Week of Advent
Mt. 21: 23-27

In today’s Gospel choice, the chief priests and the elders of the people approach Jesus as he was teaching and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Rabbis were in the habit of answering questions with another question as Jesus does in this Gospel. If he had directly answered their question, the answer would probably have been: “By the Spirit of God.”

The Spirit of God is pretty much the same as saying the Way of God or the Wisdom of God. It is the way, the wisdom, breathed on us by God at the time of our Baptism. It is our passion, our desire, for God and for his way, truth and life.

By what authority are we to counteract the violence, hatred, prejudice, persecutions, wars, greed, lust, dishonesty, lying and ignorance of our world with love, compassion, equality of all, peace, sharing, chastity, honesty, openness and the truth? The answer is the same: By the Spirit, the Breath of God.

Fr. Howard

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent
Mt. 21: 28-32

Today’s Gospel is not so much about doing what we say we will do or obedience, but rather it is about repentance. The one son, who when asked by his father to go out and work in the vineyard, replied “I will not,” but later on realized he was wrong and repented. He made a U turn. He went into the vineyard and worked as his father wished. The second son told his father when asked the same thing, “Yes, sir,” but then he did not go. He was a liar; he was one who “talked the talk” but didn’t “walk the walk.” This kind of person gets nothing done.

Where are we in this parable? Have we previously said “no” to one or the other of the Lord’s commands and then repented? Or are we one who preaches to others, talks the talk, but then doesn’t practice what he preaches or walk the walk? The latter attitude will accomplish nothing during Advent.

Fr. Howard

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent, Dec. 16 
Luke 7: 18-23

When I read today’s Gospel selection for the Liturgy, I always think of the old saying: The proof is in the pudding. You tell me you are a good cook? The proof will be in my eating something you have prepared. Today, John the Baptist is looking for proof that this Jesus he has heard about is really the Messiah. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for someone else?” In other words, prove to us you are who we hear you are. And Jesus answered John’s disciples, “Go and tell John the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead arise, the poor have the good news preached to them.”

Jesus’ answer indicates he is fulfilling the promises made by the prophets. Yes, he is the one who is to come. Not a great general with a big army, not rich and powerful, not dressed in fine clothes trimmed with gold, not riding a magnificent steed – but an ordinary man who cures the sick the lame, the lepers, the deaf and preaches good news to the poor! As St. Francis of Assisi exclaimed, “Look at the humility of our God!”

Let us ask ourselves if we are truly followers of this Messiah or should people go and look elsewhere to learn about him and his ways?

Fr. Howard

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
O Wisdom

The final seven days before Christmas begin today, December 17. And also on this day we begin one of the Liturgical highlights of the year: The great “O” Antiphons. These Antiphons are traditionally sung before and after the Canticle of Mary each evening at Vespers. Each one of them highlights another title for the coming Messiah. They are: O Wisdom, O Adonai, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Rising Sun, O King of the Nations, and O Emmanuel. The exact origin of these Antiphons is not known, but we find reference made to them already in the 5th century. By the eighth century they were in use in Liturgical celebrations in Rome. So it is safe to say that they are very old. Let’s consider them one by one in the final seven homilies before the Feast of Christmas.

December 17: O Wisdom that comes out of the mouth of the Most High, that reaches from one end to the other, and orders all things mightily and sweetly: Come to teach us the way of prudence.

Isaiah 11:2-3: And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord, He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.

O loving God, grant us the spirit of your Wisdom and Prudence that we may instinctively do things your way and come to know you and your truth and life more and more. Amen.

Fr. Howard

Friday of the Third Week of Advent
O Adonai

(Adonai is the Hebrew plural form of Adan meaning Lord, Master. Adonai is regularly used with singular verbs and as such constitutes the “majestic plural).

December 18: O Adonai, the Leader of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come, and with an outstretched arm, redeem us.

Isaiah 33: 22: For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King: He will save us.

O Almighty God, thank you for being a God of love. You loved Moses and the people of Israel centuries ago and led the to the land of milk and honey away from the persecutions and trials of Pharoah. You love your people yet today. You call each of us by name. We are precious in our sight. Please give us the strength to always remain faithful to you and your commands. Save us from the wiles of Satan. Amen.

Fr. Howard

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
O Root of Jesse

December 19: O Root of Jesse, who stood as a sign for the people, before you kings shall remain silent, and to you the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and delay not.

Isaiah 11:1: And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.

The root or tree of Jesse describes metaphorically the descent of the Messiah from Jesse of Bethlehem, through his son, David. It goes to show that the one born of Mary, Emmanuel, is of royal lineage. Christians relate all of this to Jesus. A rod or a shoot is a twig or a branch. Matthew’s Gospel begins with the words: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of Abraham. Here Matthew shows clearly Jesus’ whole human lineage: He is of God’s chosen people, by his descent from Abraham, and he is the “shoot of Jesse” by his descent from Jesse’s son, King David.

Lord, help me to rise toward your royal level. You came to raise the level of human consciousness, to challenge us to take your values of compassion, love, caring, joy, peace, serenity, forgiveness, service, humility, gentleness, kindness and mercy and run with them to the ends of the world. We can’t do that without you. Lord, help us be true bearers of your Good News. So we pray today. Amen.

Fr. Howard

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