IN OUR CATHOLIC LITURGICAL CALENDAR THIS IS “GAUDETE SUNDAY — THE SUNDAY OF JOY. WE’RE HALF WAY THROUGH ADVENT AND THE VESTMENT COLOR IS ROSE, RATHER THAN PURPLE, THE COLOR OF PENITENCE. SO, WE SEE THE CELEBRANT IN ROSE VESTMENTS, WHICH IS – UM – A LITTLE TOO CLOSE – TO PINK. I HAD A “ROSE” CELL PHONE ONCE; EVERYBODY ASKED ME WHY I HAD A PINK CELL PHONE (DON’T ASK. I BOUGHT IT WHEN I WAS MANIC.) I INSISTED IT WAS ROSE – NOT PINK!
THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A JOYFUL TIME OF YEAR BUT . . . SOME US DON’T SEE THINGS CLEARLY, OR CAN’T SPEAK UP FOR OURSELVES OR ARE DISABLED. SOME OF US ARE AFRAID OR DISILLUSIONED, CONFUSED OR DEPRESSED, LONELY / OR JUST IN NEED OF A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED INFUSION OF HOPE AND JOY.
THEN CATCH THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET ZEPHANIAH OF OLD AS HE JOYFULLY PROCLAIMS IN TODAY’S FIRST READING:
Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you.
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals. (Zep 3:14-18b)
And again St. Paul takes up the theme of rejoicing in the second reading:
Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (2 Phil 4:4-7)
In today’s gospel, we find with large crowds coming to John the Baptist, once again beside the Jordan river asking,
“What should we do?” And he gives them quite practical advice, such as to the soldiers he said: “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” And then this:
Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
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 FULL MASS READINGS FOR TODAY CAN BE FOUND ON A LINK BELOW.
TO GET YOU IN A JOYFUL MOOD (Christmas is only 10 days away), HERE IS A 1000 VOICE CHOIR IN JAPAN SINGING BEETHOVEN’S ODE TO JOY IN GERMAN; IT’S THE FULL VERSION (18 MINUTES, SO PREPARE TO BE THRILLED AND GOOSEBUPPED. TURN UP YOUR SPEAKERS AND ENTER FULL SCREEN. CLICK HERE.