Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rejoice! We are an Easter People

Third Sunday of Advent

This Sunday, the second reading will be from 1 thes 5:16-24.

Pope Francis observes in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium that, “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter.” (EG, 6)  If this is true, then it is no wonder that people think that the Catholic faithful (and indeed faithful Christians on the whole) are oppressed, repressed, and unhappy people. If we go around moping like somebody is about to die, we look like a church that is perpetually in mourning. Who wants to belong to a religion like that?

Who wants to go to church where people act every week as though they all ate bad sushi the night before and still feel a little green around the gills. These are people who are there because of an unwanted feeling of obligation.

Now, don’t misunderstand – this is not a complaint against the obligation to attend Mass each Sunday. It is rather a complaint against the attitude with which some people choose to do it.

We must not take lightly what takes place during the Mass. The Eucharist is a beautiful union between heaven and earth. Angels sing and rejoice with us that God has accomplished the salvation of the world. We experience the bodily, physical presence of Jesus Christ made manifest in the world. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith.  And people claim that they “don’t get anything out of it.” Objective grace is happening whether you feel it or not. (NB: I cannot claim most of the observations in this paragraph as my own – I am repeating things I heard in the homilies of many, many excellent homilists.)

Now, I understand that there may be times when you’ve ACTUALLY had bad sushi the night before, but just the same, Paul exhorts us to rejoice always.

What about -

Always. And in all circumstances give thanks.

What is the reason for this rejoicing? There are a few.

First: it is the will of God for us. God desires us to be happy in this life. We are commanded to rejoice in the Lord.

Second: In this concluding prayer for this letter, Paul prays that the members of that community will be made holy and be preserved blameless for the coming of Jesus Christ. He reminds us thereafter that God is faithful – and speaks of God’s fidelity regularly in his letters, as do many of the Old Testament prophets. God's faithfulness to his promises is something to rejoice in, as we are the beneficiaries of those promises.

Third: What’s not to rejoice in about the Eucharist?

And a hundred other reasons besides!

Let’s pray that God increase our joy in our faith. Let us ask him to increase our joy in the blessings that we have already received, and in those that have been promised to us, for he is faithful and will accomplish what he has promised.  Let us also ask that our joy might be a light to the world that others may see the joy of the Christian life, and be converted.

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