Third Sunday of Advent

This weekend we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday  Gaudete means rejoice.  On this Sunday in Advent, the pink candle is lit, rose colored vestments are worn, and flowers are permitted in Church.  The title, Gaudete, is taken from the first word of the Latin translation of Philippians 4: 4-5, the Entrance Antiphon for the Mass.  It sets a tone and creates a mood for joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth as well as his Second Coming at the end of time.  Today’s Gospel introduces us to some of the teachings of John the Baptist which can be summarized in three words: share, care, and be fair.  Three different groups ask John, now that they have heeded the call to conversion and have been baptized or are about to be baptized, what they should do, and how they should live.    He tells them to share their clothes and their food, not to take advantage of others, and not to abuse their power.  Through his life and his teaching, John prepared the way for Jesus.  Jesus, too, taught us to share, care, and be fair, to give whole-heartedly of ourselves, and to show the same compassion and mercy to others that God has bestowed upon us.  There is much to reflect upon this coming week.  Some questions we might ask ourselves are: how has joy permeated our lives?  How has living the Gospel caused us to treat others with love and compassion?  How does our living authentically as Christ’s disciples make a difference in the world today?      

Welcome. Father Alberto Vargas!  We are pleased to have you celebrate liturgy for [and with] us this weekend.  Father Alberto (Parochial Vicar at Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish) was last with us on Saturday, October 10 while Father Jim was attending the National Meeting of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions of which he is a board member and our diocesan delegate.  This weekend, Father Jim is attending his one and only niece, Christy’s college graduation from the University of Wyoming.  I know it will mean the world to Christy and her family to have her uncle present for this milestone in her life. 

This past Tuesday (December 8), the Church began the celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, promulgated by Pope Francis.  A Jubilee Year occurs every 25 years within the Church.  Because this Jubilee year occurs outside the 25 year cycle, it is called extraordinary.    A Jubilee year is a time of mercy and joy.  It has its roots in Old Testament ceremonial law in which a certain year was set aside, usually every 50 years; it was a time of dispensation of burdens, setting slaves and prisoners free, forgiving debts, and focusing on the mercy of God.  The beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy coincided with the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.  [That Council was convoked by Pope Saint John XXIII who did not live to see the end nor the fruits of the Council, but who did challenge the Church to “use the medicine of mercy.”]  Holy Doors of cathedrals, basilicas, and other designated churches, and shrines throughout the world, play a major role in the celebration of a Jubilee Year.  (During other years, those doors are not open).  The Holy Doors of the Basilica of Saint Peter were opened this past Tuesday.  This Sunday (December 13) the Holy Door at our diocesan Cathedral will be opened with the celebration of the 5:30 PM Mass.  And this weekend, at all the churches within our diocese named after the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Holy Doors will be opened.  Passing through those doors this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, expresses our willingness to “enter into” the mercy and love of God.  Bishop Cistone said that “we are called to allow God to radically transform our own hearts into the very heart of Christ which burns deeply with compassion and kindness for others.”                            

There are two opportunities remaining in our Vicariate to attend an Advent Communal Penance Liturgy.  They are; this Sunday afternoon at 2:00 PM at Holy Family Church and Tuesday at 7:00 PM at the Saint Stephen Church site of Saint Dominic Parish.

If you wish to join in caroling to the homebound next Sunday afternoon and did not sign up in Church, please leave your name at the Parish Office Center on Monday.  Caroling to the homebound is being coordinating by Amy Dupuis (Youth Ministry) and Tina Cook (Christian Service).  All age levels are welcome to join in the experience.  The purpose of the sign-up sheets is to help coordinate “groups,” rides/vehicles, and locations for caroling.

This Sunday, Church continues to be open until 3:00 PM for Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  At 3:00 PM, Christian Service members will gather to sort out and deliver gifts from the Advent Angel Giving Tree.     

Next Sunday, December 30, the Church will be open until 1:00 PM for Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  After that, those wishing to help with Enhancing the Church Environment for Christmas will gather and begin working.  If you can spare some time, please join us.

Blessings on your Advent days!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ