This weekend we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday! The pink candle is lit on the Advent wreath and Rose vestments may be worn. We rejoice because we are half-way through the Advent season, and the great Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord is near, only nine days until Christmas counting from this Sunday! We rejoice as we continue to prepare ourselves for the many ways in which Christ comes into our lives! Our God-Incarnate is truly present within and around us. Once again, John the Baptist is the key figure in the Gospel passage. We recall that in last week’s scripture passage John was preaching a baptism of repentance. He called those gathered to conversion of heart, and to prepare the way of the Lord. This week, different members of the crowd ask, “What should we do?” Three times John answers very directly. All of his responses are based upon justice and mercy: treating people fairly, sharing material goods and food with others, refraining from cheating and lying, and encouraging them to take care of one another. The crowds perceive John to be the Messiah, but he sets them straight by telling them, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” We, who are members of the Church, have been baptized by water and the Holy Spirit. This week, let us reflect upon the question: “What should we do?” What more should we do to spiritually prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ into our hearts and into our lives this Christmas, as well as each and every day of our lives?
This past Monday I received a phone call from the Bishop’s Office informing me that Bishop Walter Hurley will be coming to celebrate 9:30 AM Mass next Sunday (December 23). We are privileged to have Bishop Hurley with us on the last Sunday of Advent. Bishop Hurley was the twenty-second auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the eleventh Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids. (Previous to becoming the auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit, he served as pastor in several parishes there. I had the opportunity to work with him for a few years when he was pastor of Saint Cyprian Parish in Riverview). I know that you will give Bishop Hurley a warm welcome. Hopefully, you will be able to stay after Mass for a few minutes and greet him. Please do continue to pray for Bishop Hurley as he leads and guides our diocese during this time of transition until a new bishop is named.
Blessings on your Advent Season!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ