Third Sunday of Advent
JN 1:6-8, 19-28
December 17, 2017

In his little reflection for this Gaudete Sunday, Bishop Robert F. Morneau of Green Bay, Wisconsin writes: Joy has fallen on hard times in this turbulent world. He goes on to ask: Is joy possible in such a broken world?

It’s certainly true that network news these days brings shame and fear to mind a lot faster than JOY! But the fact is that the world was “broken” when the first parents made the first shameful choice. Fear entered the human conscience when, as a consequence of the Original sin, they were turned out of the Garden. The “news” we deal with in 2017 is not new. But, because of God’s infinite mercy and love, it has been overpowered by The Good News of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Morneau is able to go on to answer his own question. Turning to the Second Reading, (Thessalonians 5:16-24), he reminds us: Paul’s faith in God’s presence enabled him to have joy and peace far beyond our limited understanding. The Holy Spirit empowered Paul to be prayerful, grateful, and yes, joyful.

The same Holy Spirit comes to each of us in Baptism, empowering us to shrug off shame and face down our fears. The same Holy Spirit Who enabled Paul to find joy and peace in the midst of ridicule, persecution, imprisonment, and finally a martyr’s death enables us to find joy even in a broken world. The same Holy Spirit that energized St. Paul motivates us to be prayerful, grateful, and yes, even joyful.

We have lit the third candle and are entering the midpoint of this season of prayer, gratitude, and joy. And so it might be a good thing to join The Holy Father in praying to God with grateful hearts for this special season of joy.

A Prayer for Advent

Let us open our hearts to receive
the grace of this Advent season,
which is Christ himself,
whom God our Father has revealed
to the entire world.
Where God is born, hope is born.
Where God is born, peace is born.
And where peace is born,
there is no longer room for hatred and for war.
God alone can save us and can free us
from the many forms of evil
and the selfishness in our midst.
Let us welcome into our lives God’s mercy,
which Jesus Christ has bestowed on us,
so that we in turn can show mercy
to our brothers and sisters.
In this way we will make peace grow!
Pope Francis