Deacon Jerry Franzen Cathedral – DECEMBER 13, 2020
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; 1 Thess 5:16-20; John 1:6-8, 19-28
“Praised Be Jesus Christ! Good Morning.
It’s Gaudete Sunday; “Gaudete” is Latin for “Rejoice!”
May you have a day filled with joy!
A preacher was trying to aid some seminary students to
improve their preaching by helping them to match
their facial expressions to the topic of their preaching.
He told them to have a bright smile on their face,
or at least a pleasant expression, when preaching about heaven.
They could just have their normal facial expression,
if they were preaching about hell.
The idea was that it seems that most people
usually have less than joyful expressions on their faces.
It may be hard to tell these days with the masks.
about the Mustard Seed Community,
our diocesan charismatic prayer group.
I mentioned that we had monthly prayer meetings then
at St. Joseph Heights.
My directions to get to the meeting went something like this:
Take the entrance to Notre Dame Academy off Dixie Hwy.
Follow the road to the big parking lot;
take a parking space at the west end of the lot
and follow the people with a joyjul expression on their face.
Charismatic people are people who are filled with the Holy Spirit
and that makes them joyful in the Lord,
who came to earth as one of us for our salvation.
Unfortunately you are all wearing masks so it is difficult for me
to assess your expression.
Hopefully you see mine as at least hopeful.
because I will be preaching about heaven in a roundabout way.
Presents to get and to give. Joy Joy Joy.
Parties and family gatherings. Joy Joy Joy.
Carols to sing and favorite movies to watch. Joy Joy Joy.
We should all have that joyous look on our faces,
but our masks can hide the joyful expressions, if there are any.
For some of us the pandemic has dampened the joy
normally associated with our preparations for Christmas.
The joy of the anticipation of gatherings to share Christmas
has been curtailed; large gatherings are off limits.
But we just heard Isaiah say, “I rejoice heartily in the Lord.
In my God is the joy of my soul.”
Some would say, “Rejoice? What joy?”
When we hear St. Paul say, “Rejoice always.”
in his letter to the Thessalonians
some might say, “Always? Why, I can’t even get started.”
I get it; I am tired of always trying to remember to bring a mask,
let alone tired of wearing a mask.
It is a shame that we cannot get together to share Christmas
in various groups.
I am tired of the disappointment of looking out at you
and seeing so many empty places in the pews.
I am embarrassed somewhat by the fact that I am here and
there are so many people who want to be with us
but can’t because of the danger of COVID-19.
I am tired of not being able to sing at Mass.
To many people this hardly seems like Gaudete Sunday.
Let’s go back and look at more of that sentence from Isaiah:
“I rejoice heartily in the Lord,
In my God is the joy of my soul;
For he has clothed me with the robe of salvation,
And wrapped me with the mantle of justice….”
Isaiah was preaching the joy that God will send a Savior,
He will be that robe of salvation for all people.
Maybe this reading was assigned to this Sunday to remind us
that the joy that we are anticipating is
the celebration of the anniversary of the One
that has opened the gates of heaven for us.
That joy of the coming of our Savior cannot be quenched
by some despicable virus.
Likewise, St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians,
began the first reading with: “Rejoice always.”
The reading ended with:
“May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus’ birthday anniversary is celebrated because
He is the One sent by the God of peace to instruct us
in perfect holiness and to preserve us as blameless
for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
WOW! God did that for us – to make it possible for us
to be with Him in heaven, though we are all sinners.
Again, that is a joy that cannot be quenched
by some despicable virus.
True happiness that results in joy is not something we seek
so much as it is in a gift from God.
We may rest joyfully in the assurance of God’s love for us.
Isaiah rejoiced heartily in the Lord for he knew
that the Messiah was coming.
Christ is the spirit of God that was upon Isaiah.
Christ is the glad tidings, the healing, the freedom,
the salvation of which Isaiah spoke..
Christ is the gift we receive in the Word, in the priest,
in the assembly and in the sacrament at each Mass.
Jesus stood up in the temple
and read that very prophecy from Isaiah.
After he finished reading he said,
“Today that prophecy is fulfilled in your hearing.”
We should rejoice because the Savior has come.
So, what is the character of your spirit this Advent?
Are you troubled because you may be restricted from finding
all the right gifts for friends and relatives?
Are you annoyed because you cannot gather for
all the usual holiday activities?
Someone once said that the letters J O Y stand for
Jesus, Others and You.
True joy lies in our interactions with Jesus and others.
As I said earlier, “I get it.”
Our not being able to interact with others as well as we did in the past is the problem this Christmas.
Since that is a problem, may we then be able to focus more on
the our interaction with Jesus.
If your only source of joy at this time is
through the usual holiday activities, that joy is fleeting.
You can’t on to hold it. It will escape you.
Joyfully thank God for the gift of His Son the Messiah, the Christ.
That joy will not be fleeting.
Paul says, “Do not quench the spirit.”
Continual searching for joy among
the commercial aspects of Christmas quenches the spirit.
No despicable virus can quench the spirit of joy we receive,
when we realize what God, out of His love for us, has done.
Allow God’s gift of his Son to reign in your heart.
The entrance antiphon for today, taken from
St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say,
Rejoice! The Lord is near.”
The Psalm today was not a psalm; it was composed
of parts of the Magnificat, Mary’s joyful response
when her cousin Elizabeth affirmed that she, Mary,
would be the mother of the Savior.
Our response to the verses of the psalm was:
“My soul rejoices in my God.” So, “Gaudete, Rejoice!”
Rejoice because the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled today
in your hearing.
The Lord is near.