“Rejoice, in the LORD who secures justice for the oppressed!”

In this Sunday’s Readings for the  Third Sunday in Advent (“Gaudete”) we are called to “Rejoice!” Nonetheless, the readings remind us that we rejoice in what “will exult,” “will bloom,” will heal, “will meet with joy and gladness [when] sorrow and mourning will flee.” So, there is a call to rejoice in the hope that we have, which is hope precisely because it does not match what we presently see.

The refrain from Psalm 146 cries out in anticipation: “Lord, come and save us.”

“The LORD God keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.

“The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.

“The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.

The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.”

 

Therefore, James calls us to patience, not complacency or despair: “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.” We must make our hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

 

What does it look like to remain firm in this hope, to remain joyful?

 

Well, on this Gaudete Sunday, we can take our cue from Jesus’ response to St. John the Baptist, when he asked “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” In his response, Jesus harkens back to the kinds of works we see in Psalm 146, and says, “Go and tell…what you hear and see.”

 

As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, let us make our hearts firm. Let us stand with and for those that Jesus liberates, heals, forgives, and empowers. Let us stand with “the poor [who] have the good news proclaimed to them.” And let us stand in awe of this joyful hope, with that great Advent saint John the Baptist, and marvel that

 

“there has been none greater than John the Baptist;

Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

 

Let us make room in our hearts for the least of these…

 

For those looking for additional ways to respond to the tensions and anxieties rife among particular marginalized communities, there are a couple of upcoming opportunities to join with others in prayerful solidarity:

  • December 12th: The U.S. Bishops have called for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to be a Day of Prayer and Solidarity with Families of Immigrants. Find more details and prayer resources at www.usccb.org/news/2016/16-168.cfm.
  • December 19th: Bishop Vann will join the community of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Santa Ana for Las Posadas. All are welcome to join in solidarity with immigrant sisters and brothers in prayer and celebration of Advent welcome. Info at  http://bit.ly/2fXMFYm.
  • December 21st: Join Bishop Vann and other leaders for Homeless Persons’ InterFaith Memorial Service to remember those homeless men and women who have lost their life on the streets in Orange County in the past year. More information at  http://bit.ly/2eVIafb

 

Peace and All Good,

Greg Walgenbach

Director, Office of Life, Justice & Peace