Third Sunday of Advent

Some priest in some parish once received a package in the mail. When he opened it, it contained a book. The title surprised him: A Complaint Free World. The subtitle said, How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted. He asked himself: Is someone trying to tell me something?[1].

The book had a good point: we waste a lot of time and energy complaining. Usually our criticizing does no good. Instead of doing something positive, we complain to the wrong person about the wrong thing at the wrong time. And our complaints almost always involve a negative judgment on someone else –or some group of people. No wonder St. James tells us today: Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged.

Imagine how beautiful our lives would be if we could learn from John's example, just as we heard in our gospel today:

The blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised and -most important of all- the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.

No matter what our present suffering, no matter what trial we are going through, no matter what disappointment has come upon us, we have cause for joy. We can replace complaining with rejoicing; St. John shows us how. He focused on Jesus. He saw everything in relation to him.

This is especially important in our families. Parents have to do their best to protect their children from negativity. I want to say this direct: We have to protect our children from negativity regarding the Mass. We can start complaining about the music or the homily or –God forgive us- about fellow parishioners. In the process we miss the incredible gift Jesus wants to give us: His Word, His own Body and Blood and Divinity. It is like sitting down to Christmas dinner and instead of appreciating the ham and sweet potatoes, we are upset because the salad isn't crisp. We get distracted by the minor stuff and miss what really matters.

Like John the Baptist we need to focus on Jesus. The hardships of prison, everything else that was wrong, he brushed it away like a fly. John shows us how we can replace negativity with joy. Today we lit the third candle of our Advent. It has a pink color that signifies rejoicing[2]. Our deliverance is very near. May we be among the poor who rejoice at this good news.

[1] Sunday 16th December, 2007: 3rd Sunday of Advent. Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10. Lord, come and save us-Ps 145(146):6-10. James 5:7-10. Matthew 11:2-11.

[2] Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent in the Christian calendar. It can fall on any date from 11 December to 17 December. The term Gaudete is broadly translated from Latin as Rejoice, a word that appears in the entrance antiphon (introit) of Masses held on this day: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near. (Catholic Mass years A, B and C). On Gaudete Sunday rose coloured vestments may be worn instead of violet which is prescribed for every day in the season of Advent. In churches which have an Advent wreath, the rose coloured candle is lit in addition to two of the violet coloured candles which represent the first two Sundays of Advent. During the otherwise penitential season of Advent, the readings on the third Sunday emphasize the joyous anticipation of the Lord's coming.
Ilustration: Smiling angel Sourire de Reims at Cathedrale Notre Dame de Reims. The church took over 200 years to build in the 13th century. Reims

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris