From Our Pastor: 3rd Sunday of Advent
This third Sunday of Advent we call Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete translates to mean Rejoice! It comes from the letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” Today we rejoice because the time of preparation and waiting is almost over. Like a little kid that can’t wait for Christmas morning, the Church lifts our preparatory spirit of fasting and waiting for His coming, just a little, to say rejoice its almost over, He is almost here. With this excitement, it is also a warning in a way! If you haven’t started preparing, you better get on it, because He is almost here! Be ready!
He is coming!
The readings are both lifting and warning! Isaiah says to us to rejoice because the messiah is coming to make all things new! To bring life where it seems impossible, and to bring newness to things seemingly dead. He is our vindication, our Savior! What will this messiah do? He will open the eyes of the blind, clear the ears of the deaf, the lame will walk, and the mute will sing!
He will pay the ransom to set captives free. This is what the Israelites were waiting for in the Messiah!
So that brings us to the Gospel today. John the Baptist is in prison. He sends his disciples to find Jesus and ask if He is the Christ! Wouldn’t John know that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah? Yes of course but he sends his disciples so that they find Jesus and start following Him instead of John. John knows his time and mission are almost complete. He wants his followers to follow the Messiah, for this was the entire mission of John. Prepare the way for the Messiah and lead others to follow the Messiah. So, what is Jesus’ answer to them when they ask if He is the Messiah? He answers quoting what Isaiah prophesied. The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the poor, the captives, have the good news proclaimed to them.
What is that good news? The Messiah has come to make us new and save us! This is truly good news for us! So may we be ready! May we prepare our hearts and not just decorate our homes. We must prepare for He is coming and is almost here! Rejoice, but only if you’re ready!
This last week I may have been too harsh with my words in the bulletin, but also, I was trying to be. If you haven’t realized I try to be very clear. I can’t fathom taking a book home from the Church unless I was told to. For a very short time you were encouraged to take them home, but only during covid when we didn’t have mass in the Church. Yes, sacristans that read every day were given permission to take one home to practice those crazy words and names and places. The choir was asked to take them home so that they could practice singing to prepare for mass. This is not what I was speaking of at all, as we order enough for both things to take place. And yes, sometimes we give away publications, like word among us or books for Christmas or Easter that we tell you to take or the Augustine Institutes’ Lighthouse Catholic Media materials. These are all different realities. We buy the Pray Together and music issue books for the Church, so that they are here when you and everyone else comes to mass to be able to use.
What I was speaking of was, the church needs those books in the pews as they are for use in the mass at the Church. I used the word stealing because without those books many sitting in the pews do not have what they need then to participate in the mass. If you are taking them home for the homebound or for your personal prayer, that is not why we order these specifically. Someone told me that it should be allowed for you to do this because you give. Although that is an emotional sentiment, that is not a logical mindset. By that same mind set you should be able to take anything in the church building home because you give, pots and pans from the hall, or vestments and vessels, or statues, or the roman missal etc. You would never think to take those things home, I would hope. That may seem extreme, but these books in the pews are for ALL to use at the church and not for our own personal use.
We buy a subscription as a parish to The Word Among Us for people to use personally at home. One may buy a Daily Roman Missal for personal use at home. One may get a subscription to many differing publications for personal use, like Magnificat. I may have been harsh in my language and should have explained more or maybe toned it down a little, but the things in the pews need to stay so that all have the ability to follow the mass and sing along with us. The only reason I was stronger in my words is this isn’t the first time I have written this in the bulletin or said this from the pulpit. The strong language came because for the first time since I have been here, a third of the church doesn’t have a Pray Together and many many many “music issues” are missing, even though we ordered way more than before. These books missing makes it impossible for people to follow the mass or sing along as we should. Especially as we welcome many visitors for mass in this upcoming season, we need to have books for them to use to welcome them, and hopefully encourage them to not just visit, but stay. If we don’t have materials for them to use when they are here, we aren’t being very welcoming. So, in less strong words than stealing, please bring them back so that they may be here for all to use.
-Rev. Steven Arisman