We celebrate Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday on this Third Sunday of Advent as we wait in joyful anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child. In our Sunday gospels during Advent, the call to prepare for Christ comes primarily from John the Baptist. He, in essence, tells us to prepare the way of the Lord, acknowledge our shortcomings and failures, repent of our sins, and change our hearts. However, we can be preoccupied with shopping, and parties, and travel plans which can easily distract us from focusing on this important message. Distractions can be very real and very powerful and were recently addressed by Pope Francis.
The media outlet “Catholic News Service” reported that in a gathering with Vatican employees Pope Francis asked, “will people go to adore and be amazed by Jesus, or will they let themselves be detoured by distractions?” As a way to avoid distractions, he invited the faithful to focus on the call to holiness. He stated that one sign of holiness is being able to “be astonished, to feel the wonder before God’s gifts, his ‘surprises.’ And the greatest gift, the ever-new surprise is Jesus.” He also reminded the people that Mary and Joseph were “overflowing with holiness and, therefore, with joy” as they gazed at the Christ Child in the manger. He stated, “We are not afraid of holiness. I can tell you it is the path to joy.”
As we reflect on these profound words of Our Holy Father, and as we strive to prepare spiritually for the coming of the Lord, we are reminded that this Wednesday, December 18th at 9:00 am, we will celebrate a memorial Mass for our beloved former pastor, Monsignor Paul Reynolds. He shepherded his congregation at Saint Brigid from 2006 until his death in 2010. He was a priest of great wisdom and insight and joy and truly appreciated the opportunity to serve the people entrusted to his care.
As we reflect on the memory of Monsignor Reynolds and the example of John the Baptist, we know the Lord is ready to come to us. Are we willing to avoid the distractions of the season which can easily overwhelm us? Are we focused on parties, shopping, and travel plans or are we ready to open our hearts to receive the Christ Child in a spirit of holiness, in a spirit of joy? As we continue in this Advent Season, we are invited to do brief Advent scripture readings and reflections each day to better prepare ourselves to receive Our Lord, Our Savior, and Our King of Kings.