As our Advent Season journey continues in preparation for the celebration of Christmas,
which is just nine days away, please remember our parish Penance Service (four priests
will be available for Confessions) at 7:00pm on Wednesday, December 19 (in addition
to the regularly scheduled times on Saturdays at 4:00pm and before daily Mass). When
we celebrate the birthday of the Only Savior of the world, may we be as well prepared
as possible for a worthy celebration – as Saint John the Baptist reminds us this Sunday,
and as our beloved Bishop Robert C. Morlino (1946-2018) encouraged and invited us
to do every year. Let us continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Bishop Morlino.
In the Gospel on this Third Sunday of Advent (Luke 3:10-18), we read that the
people who came out to the desert to hear Saint John the Baptist preach the Good
News, whatever their background, asked a common question: “What should we do?”
Saint John’s message, of course, was of the imminent coming of the Messiah – and it is
understandable that such an expectation aroused a desire to prepare for the momentous
event, symbolized in Saint John’s baptism of repentance by water.
Saint John’s answer to the question “what to do” is both practical and mysterious. Saint
John’s answer is practical in that he tells them to do what is right and good (for example:
give food and clothing to the poor, be upright and honest). In other words, God asks us
to be faithful in the ordinary circumstances of our daily life, for He will make Himself
evident there. Saint John’s answer is mysterious in that he speaks of a new baptism by
fire and the Holy Spirit, and of a judgment that awaits souls. “His winnowing fan is in
His hand to clear His threshing floor and to gather the wheat into His barn, but the
chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
The world in which we live today seems increasingly disinclined to acknowledge the
coming of Jesus Christ as the central event of human history. Some people and groups
appear so filled with themselves and their selfish concerns that they go to extremes to
forbid the public display of manger scenes and suppress the use of the word “Christmas.”
Regardless of such efforts by atheists and sects of the secular culture that try to impose
their anti-Christian “religion” on Christians, the Truth of Jesus Christ cannot be ignored.
And on this third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday, Rejoice Sunday), the Church
reminds us to proclaim and prepare evermore joyfully for the birthday of Jesus Christ
(Philippians 4:4-5). Every person in history takes a stand to either proclaim or attack or
remain indifferent to the mystery of God the Son, Jesus Christ, offered for our salvation.
The question then is always relevant and pertinent – what should we do? As Christmas
draws near, may we respond to the question by renewing deeply our faith in and our
love for Jesus Christ and His Church, living in our words and deeds the virtues of faith,
hope and love, and praying fervently for a world that needs His Presence more than ever.
With peace and prayers in Christ,