Third Sunday of Advent (a)

This is Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday[1] and the beautiful feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, and the readings today invites us to ask ourselves: What makes us happy, really happy? What really makes for lasting happiness? Undoubtedly not sports, and certainly not the new iPod touch. Stuff doesn’t bring lasting happiness. Happiness comes from relationships. Mature people are far more concerned with the signs of love they bring the people they love on Christmas than they are at what signs of love they may receive. The relationship is what matters. Many of our seniors will tell you that they really love their husbands or wives and continued to do so after their spouse died. Some who have lost children would also agree. In our Catholic faith, we believe that our loved ones who have gone before us are with the Lord watching over us now and waiting for us to join them later on. That makes us happy[2].

And the greatest relationship we can possibly have is the one that brings us the greatest joy. That is the relationship with Jesus Christ. [so] Real happiness comes from the encounter with God. The relationships we have with other people all take their strength from the relationship we have with the Lord. People truly love each other when they see God’s goodness in each other. When the relationship with God is not present, the relationship of two people is quite shallow.

People saw God in John the Baptist. They were drawn to him, even though he was ruthless in proclaiming the Truth. Actually, that is what fascinated them, that is what set their hearts on fire. They encountered God in John the Baptist. Whom did you go out to see? Jesus asks in today’s Gospel, A reed that is shaken by the wind? No, people came out to hear a prophet and experience God through that prophet. Yes, he was calling them to a radical change in their lives, but he was also calling them to God. And they sensed it. They experienced God in the radical words of the prophet. They jumped into the water to be baptized by John because they wanted what he had. They wanted God. They wanted true happiness.

Let get the same question today: What did you go out to the desert to see? What did you go out to the parish to see? Did you come to the parish to get some entertainment or to adore our Lord and to talk with him? In the parish we have Jesus Christ. Why are we attracted to Him? Well, we are attracted to Him because we know His Love is real for each of us and it is forever, because He brings lasting happiness.

May the final days before Christmas be for you and your families days of authentic joy, His Joy and may our blessed Mother –causa notrae letitiae- lead us to her Son. We gather today with Mary, our Mother, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, just as the first disciples prayed with her in the Upper Room. We also entrust our mission and ministry to her loving intercession. May the quality of our love for one another bring out to everyone that we are truly the Lord’s disciples and missionaries![3]

[1] Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent in the liturgical calendar of the Western Church, including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Churches, and some liturgical Protestant churches. It can fall on any date from 11 December to 17 December. The Latin Gaude is translated as Rejoice, the first word of the introit of this day's Mass: Rejoice in the Lord always.
[2] Every Christmas I receive pictures of the children of our parish. That is Mom and Dad’s way of saying: “Come and share our joy.” Your children are your joy even when they try your patience. They are the source of your joy because you love them so much for whom they are: your children, your own unique reflections of God’s love in your lives.

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