We have begun a Holy Year of Mercy and all of the necessary ingredients can be discovered in this Holy Season of Advent. The words of today’s Alleluia versicle from Isaiah and quoted in the gospel of St. Luke capture well the joyful and mercy-filled spirit of The Third Sunday in Advent—Gaudete Sunday:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me!
—because He has anointed Me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
Particularly the words glad tidings signal the joyful anticipation of Christmas
and its imminent arrival. The prophet Zephaniah instructs The Chosen People:
Fear not, O Zion,
be not discouraged!
The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty Savior.
Just so, it is OK, then, to open one eye to the decorations and parties. The words of an old “Negro” spiritual come to mind: “Oh Lord, I can’t sit down. My soul is so happy that I can’t sit down!” After all, who wouldn’t be glad if true justice and lasting peace had finally been delivered?
But wait! Before we blindfold ourselves and rush over to take a whack at the Christmas Donkey Piñata, let’s not lose sight of the gospel today, which reminds us that the Baptizer is still crying out, “Make straight the way of the Lord!” There is still Advent soul searching to do and we would do ourselves a disfavor if we were to pass over St. Paul’s challenge “Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near!”
And though it is already Gaudete Sunday (and the clergy are decked out in “rose”), we still need to wait on the Lord. Most of us would wait forever for something truly worth our while. Children at home or at school can learn one of the most important lessons of their lives by a caring adult who shows them how to plant a seed, Be Patient, and enjoy watching it poke through the dirt, produce a first leaf, and then the glorious flower—worth the while. We Wait nine months for a new human being to see first light, definitely worth the while. For other things we can “hardly wait,” the end is SO worth the while—the return of a loved one, the rendering of true justice, the path to ending terrorism (foreign or homegrown)—truly worth the wait!
Waiting for Jesus is an art. Monks, nuns, and mystics have specialized in it. For those who have developed the art of waiting on the Lord it is possible to wait on him and to do last-minute shopping at the same time. Different from walking and chewing gum, we are talking about an abiding ability to wait on the Lord and to do whatever seasonal things at the same time. This requires something so simple and yet so challenging—”to ponder all things in your heart”—this gift and talent was predicated of the Blessed Mother by St. Luke the Evangelist. Therefore, as we have just celebrated major solemnities of Our Lady—The Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe—let us go to her to show us the ways of a true disciple. In our remaining days of Advent let us learn from her how to acquire her expertise in waiting on the Lord and in bringing his hope and promise, his salvation, to a weary world. May we discover the path to Divine Mercy in her who is titled Queen of Mercy.
With you I rejoice and with you
I wait on the Lord at His coming—