From the Pastor's Desk

Knowing that God is in our midst, how can I answer the question from the Gospel: “What should I do?”

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The central theme of today’s readings is the command "Rejoice!" We are to do so mainly by realizing the presence of Jesus in our midst and by receiving him into our lives through our repentance, our renewal of life and our doing of God’s will. Today is called “Gaudete” Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon, “Gaudete in Domino semper” (“Rejoice in the Lord always”).

Today we light the rose candle of the Advent wreath, and the priest may wear rose vestments, to express our communal joy in the coming of Jesus as our Savior. We rejoice because a) we are celebrating the day of Christ’s birth, b) we recognize his daily presence in our midst, and c) we wait for his return in glory.

In today’s first reading, the prophet Zephaniah encourages Jerusalem and Israel to shout out for the joy of expecting its deliverance from the Lord.

In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Is 12:6), the prophet gives the same instruction, "Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."

St. Paul echoes this message of joy in the second reading, a letter written from imprisonment: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice...” In the Gospel today, John the Baptist explains the secret of Christian joy as our wholehearted commitment to God’s way by the doing of His will. John challenges people to generosity and sense of fairness so that others may have reason to rejoice. According to John, happiness comes from doing our duties faithfully, doing good for others and sharing our blessings with others in need. John’s call to repentance is a call to joy and restoration. Repentance means a change in the purpose and direction of our lives. John tells the people to act with justice, charity and honesty, letting their lives reflect their transformation. For us, that transformation occurs when Christ enters our lives, and it is to be reflected in our living in the ways John suggests.

Life Messages: 1) We are called to a change of life. First, we should examine our relationships with others. We must mend ruptures and frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly and treat employees justly. Our domestic and social lives must be put in order. We must abandon our selfish thirst for consumption and, instead, be filled with the expectation of Jesus’ coming.

2) We need to remember that we are, like John the Baptist, Christ’s precursors: Parents, teachers and public servants act as Christ’s precursors by repenting of their sins, reforming their lives and bringing Christ into the lives of those entrusted to their care. Parents are expected to instill in their children a true Christian spirit and an appreciation for Christian values by their own lives and behavior. All public servants are to remember that they are God’s instruments and that they are to lead the people they serve to the feet of Jesus, so that they, too, may know him personally and accept him as their Savior, Lord and Brother.

Fr. Gus. MS, Pastor