Third Sunday of Advent

December 11, 2016

December 11, 2016

PREVIOUSALLNEXT

Sunday of Joy

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of joy, as Pope Francis refers to it.

Gaudete - in Latin - meaning rejoice. All over the world on this day Christian churches are celebrating Gaudete Sunday.

 Admittedly, we are halfway through the Season of Advent and many of us are laboring under the preparations and the added responsibilities that come with anticipating Christmas. Admittedly, too, when we think of a day of rejoicing, perhaps are hearts aren’t fully in it, in this particular moment.

 Gaudete is symbolized by the color rose. We see that reflected in the vestments of the celebrant and in the color of the candle in our Advent wreath that we light today. Pink. Joy. Rejoicing. What do we make of the injunction to be joyful right now as constitutive of being a person of faith, especially when our hearts might not be in it? Henri Nouwen makes the distinction between happiness which is contingent on external circumstances and joy which is entirely conditioned by the interior disposition. Henri argues that this kind of fundamental interior joy, not dependent on external circumstances, is only possible in response to one fundamental faith question. Do you believe - radically believe - in a loving God who loves you just for who you are, unconditionally and unfailingly? The answer to that question will set the conditions for an interior life of joy, even and especially, in the midst of profound suffering.

I know that many of you might be arriving at this point in Advent, today, with very heavy hearts. I know that some of us have lost people very close to us and anticipate the holidays for the first time without our beloved friend, or daughter, or mother. I also know that there is anxiety around meaningful work, the ability to provide for our families, the end of important relationships. There are endless reasons that one might be arriving at this day unsettled, unnerved, anxious and deeply sorrowful. Communally, when we step back and we look at our neighborhoods, at our cities, at our countries and at the world, what do we see? What is the cause of so much suffering and anxiety? We bear witness to daily examples of sexism, of racism, of woeful ignorance of the plight of refugees and migrants, of the homeless in our very midst. These are all reasons that would dampen the human heart and cause great anguish.

And yet today we are called to be joyful. How? How can that be possible?

 Let’s looks at the Gospel reading in this context. Dramatic. It opens with John the Baptist, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. He has been tremendously faithful in his mission. He is Jesus’s cousin. And he is the messenger of Christ. And here he is, in jail. It doesn’t look from his perspective like things turned out the way he thought they might. So he sends his disciples to Jesus asking one question. “Jesus, are you the one we have been waiting for? Or should we look for another?” A profound admission of doubt on the part of John the Baptist. I think this gives us permission today to see doubt in our faith lives as profoundly holy and deeply meaningful if we want to have an adult mature life of faith. Doubt is good. It is important. It is part of wrestling with the big questions of meaning and our purpose in the universe.

 Jesus’s response is even more interesting. He doesn't send John’s disciples back with evidence of how he has conquered and vanquished with his almighty power. Instead he points to the fruit of his labor, the fruit of God’s agency working through Jesus. And what is that fruit? It’s all about healing and reconciliation and extending mercy to those on the margins and bringing good news to the poor. Shocking but constitutive of what it means to be Christian. And that is the invitation to belong to this great community of faith that Jesus has initiated.

 I have a wonderful friend, Mary Ann Wasil, who was diagnosed with breast cancer twelve years ago. This was her favorite day, Gaudete Sunday, not only because it is symbolized by pink which is also associated with the many efforts to promote breast health advocacy across the globe but because of her fundamental belief in a beautiful, benevolent, loving God who was always at her side. She took the worst thing that she could have imagined and suffered - the diagnosis of breast cancer - and rather than let herself mire in this sorrow she converted it to be a blessing for others. She, out of her faithful relationship with Christ, decided to take this and offer it as a blessing to girls and women all over the world. That is an example that gave rise to hope and encouragement and love and consolation for so many. And this is what we are being asked to do on this day. No matter what sorrows are on our heart. No matter what we have brought here on this Gaudete Sunday. We each have the fundamental question before us. Do you believe in a God who so lavishly loves you just for being you? Is unfailing in God’s love for you? And if that answer is yes, can you let yourself be a blessing to others? Be hope for others?

Ultimately this day of rejoicing is about celebrating what is good in order to find the strength to fix what is wrong.

Happy Gaudete Sunday.

 

Kerry Alys Robinson
Founding Executive Director and Global Ambassador
Leadership Roundtable

Domingo de Alegría

Hoy es domingo de Gaudete, domingo Alegría como diría Papa Francisco.

Gaudete – en Latin – significa regocijo.  En el mundo entero en este día iglesias cristianas celebran domingo de Gaudete.

Sin duda ya estamos a mediados de la temporada de adviento y muchos de nosotros estamos laborando bajo los preparativos y responsabilidades que acompañan a la preparación de las navidades. Sin duda, también, cuando pensamos en un día de alegría es posible que nuestros corazones no estén completamente dedicados en este momento en particular.

Gaudete es simbolizado por el color rosa. Lo vemos reflejado en las vestimentas de los celebrantes y el color de la vela que hoy alumbramos en la corona de adviento. Rosa. Alegría. Regocijo. ¿Cómo interpretamos el mandamiento de ser alegres que se nos propone siendo personas de fe, especialmente cuando nuestros corazones no sienten el mismo gozo? Henri Nouwen hace la distinción entre la felicidad que depende de circunstancias externas y la alegría que emana enteramente de la disposición interior del ser humano.  Henri dice que esta alegría interna, la cual no depende de circunstancias externas, es solo posible como respuesta a una pregunta fundamental de fe. ¿Cree – radicalmente cree – en un Dios que lo ama por quien usted es, sin condición, sin falta? La respuesta a esta pegunta nos provee las condiciones para una vida de alegría, especialmente durante, tiempos de profundo dolor.

Sé que muchos de ustedes llegan a este punto de adviento con corazones adoloridos. Sé que algunos de nosotros hemos perdido personas queridas, y ahora nos preparamos para las fiestas por primera vez sin nuestro adorado amigo, nuestra hija, nuestra madre. También se que hay ansiedad acerca de trabajar, nuestra habilidad para proveerle a nuestras familias, la finalidad de relaciones importantes. Hay razones sin fin por las cuales uno pudiera estar llegando a este día con dolor, temor y ansiedad. ¿Como comunidad cuando nos alejamos y observamos a nuestras urbanizaciones, nuestras ciudades, nuestro país y el mundo, que vemos? ¿Cuál es la causa de tanto sufrimiento y ansiedad? Somos testigos de ejemplos diarios de racismo, sexismo, de la ignorancia del sufrimiento de los refugiados e inmigrantes, de los desamparados en nuestro medio.  Todas estas cosas lastiman al corazón y causan angustia.

Y sin embargo hoy se nos llama ser felices. ¿Cómo? ¿De qué manera es eso posible?

Veamos a la lectura del evangelio en este contexto.  Dramático.  Abre con Juan Bautista, el más grande de los profetas del antiguo testamento. El ha sido tremendamente fiel en su misión.  Es el primo de Jesus. Y es el mensajero de Jesus. Y ahí lo tenemos, en la cárcel. No parece que las cosas le han resultado de la manera que el anticipaba. Y por ende manda a sus discípulos a hacerle una pregunta a Jesús. “¿Jesús, eres el que hemos estado esperando?  O debíamos buscar a otro?” Una profunda admission de duda de parte de Juan Bautista. Creo que esto nos da permiso a ver la duda en nuestras vidas de fe como algo profundamente santo y significativo si queremos tener una vida madura y adulta de fe.  La duda vale.  Es importante.  Es parte de nuestra lucha con las grandes preguntas acerca de el propósito y el significado del universo.

La respuesta de Jesús es hasta más interesante. El no manda a los discípulos de Juan de vuelta con evidencia de haber vencido con su gran poder.  En vez el señala a las frutas de su labor, el fruto del trabajo de Dios a través de Jesús.  ¿Y ese fruto es qué? Es todo lo que tiene que ver con sanar, reconciliar, y extender misericordia a los maginados y traer la buena noticia a los pobres. Estremecedor pero esencial en lo que significa ser cristiano. Y es la invitación a ser parte de la gran comunidad de fe que Jesús ha iniciado.

Tengo una gran amiga de nombre May Ann Wasil, quien fue diagnosticada con cáncer del seno hacen doce años. Este era su dia favorito, domingo de Gaudete, no solo porque se simboliza con el rosa el cual se identifica tanto con los esfuerzos para promover la salud del seno a través del mundo, sino por su fe fundamental en la presencia preciosa y benevolente de un Dios de amor que siempre la acompaña. Tomando lo peor que se hubiera podido imaginar y sufrir – el diagnostico de cáncer – y en vez de dejarse agobiar de dolor y sufrimiento lo convirtió en una bendición para otros. Gracias a la relación que ella tenía con Cristo decidió tomar esta condición y ofrecerla como una bendición para las niñas y mujeres del mundo. Este ejemplo dio a luz a la esperanza y al ánimo y al aliento y al consuelo para tantos. Esto es lo que se nos pide hacer hoy. Sin importar las angustias que tengamos en el corazón. No importa lo que hayamos traído en este domingo de Gaudete. Tenemos ante nosotros una pregunta fundamental. ¿Crees en un Dios que te quiere tan espléndidamente solo por tu ser tu? ¿Es sin falla el amor de Dios por ti? ¿Si la respuesta es sí, puedes dejarte ser una bendición para otros? ¿Ser la esperanza para otros?

¡A fin de cuentas este día es para regocijar es para celebrar lo que es bueno para encontrar la fuerza para rectificar lo que esta errado!

¡Feliz día de domingo de Gaudete!

 

First Reading

Is 35:1-6A, 10

PSALM

Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10

Second Reading

Jas 5:7-10

GOSPEL

Mt 11:2-11
Read texts at usccb.org

Kerry Robinson

Kerry Robinson is the founding executive director and global ambassador of Leadership Roundtable, dedicated to promoting excellence and best practices in the management, finances and human resource development of the Catholic Church by harnessing the managerial expertise and financial acumen of senior level lay executives. 

Kerry is a member of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities and FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities). She has been an advisor to and trustee of numerous grantmaking foundations, family philanthropies and charitable nonprofits since 1990 including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development, America Media, Jesuit Volunteers Corps, and the National Pastoral Life Center.

Kerry served as the director of development for Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University and led a $75 million fundraising drive to expand and endow the Chapel's intellectual and spiritual ministry and to construct a Catholic student center on Yale’s campus. 

She is the prize-winning author of Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy and a Spiritual Call to Service and the founding editor of The Catholic Funding Guide: A Directory of Resources for Catholic Activities.

She and her husband, Dr. Michael Cappello, have two children, Christopher and Sophie.

MORE