Homily for Sunday December 17, 2017

3rd Sunday of Advent/ Gaudete Sunday Reflection
December17, 2017
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFM
Based on Isaiah 61, Psalm Luke 1, 1 Thessalonians 5, John 1:6-8, 19-28
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Order Franciscans of Mercy
Web Site: www.missionstsergius.org
 Link to Franciscans of Mercy www.orderfranciscansofmercy.org
“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, Rejoice! The Lord is near” with these words the liturgy for this Sunday begins. What a wonderful way to begin anything, especially the Eucharistic Celebration called “The Mass”.
You notice that I am wearing vestments that are Rose colored because we are celebrating the closeness of the Birth of Our Redeemer and Savior and the celebration of that Birth.
The responsorial Psalm proclaims how we Rejoice using the prayer often attributed to Our Blessed Mother upon hearing the words of the angel Gabriel telling her she was to bear the promised messiah of the ages.  “My Soul rejoices in my God” “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked upon his lowly servant. Many of you may recognize this prayer as the Magnificat.
The Gospel for Gaudete Sunday is from John and it talks about St. John the Baptist who was the cousin of Christ and was brought into this world by the will of God to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, I say it was by the will of God since his mother Elizabeth had been barren for many years, and when his father Zechariah who was a priest belonging to the order of  Abijah, while he was offering incense in the Temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and told him that his wife Elizabeth who had been barren for many years would give birth to a son, and the son's name would be John. Zechariah, who was an old man, did not believe the angel, and because of his disbelief, was struck dumb unable to speak, until the prophecy was fulfilled.
The important thing in all these readings is the fact that we should be rejoicing because The Christ, the promised of the ages did come into this world; Christ came to bring us the Good news of Salvation and to once and for all teach us what the father willed and also how the Father was a God of love, not vengeance as so much of the Old Testament made him sound like.
The readings are also telling us  that basically, in God’s eyes, all who believe and live their lives extending love, compassion, charity and work toward a peaceful world are going to achieve everlasting life with the heavenly elect.
With so many grumbling about one thing or another these days and with the economy and the world in a state of turmoil and with the daily news services reporting one horrible event after another it might seem difficult to REJOICE.. 
Just the knowledge that so many children of God around the world are living in poverty, suffering from discrimination, homeless, and being killed because of the greed and power and with so many Christians being killed by The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Sunni extremist who ascribe to a twisted for of the Koran but in reality are rejected by most true believers of the Koran, we might wonder how we could ever REJOICE IN THE LORD!
People are so busy decorating their houses and purchasing gifts in preparation of celebrating Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa that all they focus is on the commercial aspects of the holidays and totally forget that these holidays are, first off, religious and created as special days to honor God.
People forget what true meaning of these holidays is all about.
Without God, none of these holidays would exist. Without Christ, there can never be a Christmas.
In these last two weeks before we celebrate the birth of the messiah, Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ’s birth let us make sure that we set aside time thank God for all He has provided us. 
The reading from James letter to his church in Jerusalem instructs us to; “Grudge not one against another, brothers, lest you be condemned: behold, the judge stands before the door”
Let us acknowledge the precious gift of God’s beloved son and make room in our lives every day to “Rejoice in Him” through prayer and works of charity, compassion and love for ALL God’s children. 
Let us answer God with the same words our Blessed Mother Mary did which we find in the Magnificat;
My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Or the words John the Baptist proclaimed;
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vindication by our God”.
We can all proclaim the Good News of Salvation just by being proud of being a follower of Christ and not be ashamed to let everyone we meet know it and by letting them see that our actions are consistent with the teachings of Christ.
Let our gift to God be our thanking him for our lives and what we have and sharing what we have with those who are in need.  AMEN