Sunday, December 11, 2011

Take a Moment to Enjoy the Season

Today's readings come from the prophet Isaiah, Saint Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John (instead of Saint Mark, as is normally the case duing liturgical Year B). In the Catholic Church and some other organized denominations that celebrate the season of Advent, the third Sunday is referred to as Gaudete Sunday. The name is taken from the introit of the Mass liturgy and means "rejoice" (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Thes readings focus on the ministry of Saint John the Baptist and his role in preparing the Jewish people for Christ's ministry. It's hard to imagine reflecting on St. John and "taking a break from it all," for I don't know that St. John ever took much of a break during his short but vivid life. Fr. James Kumbakkeel, O.S.B., a priest at our parish, put it this way - St. John the Baptist's life was one of complete joy. Baptising Jesus was the completion of that joy which began from the moment he leaped in his mother's womb when he learned the mother of the Messiah was near. While his message or preparation may have come across as apocalyptic, it's important to remember what he was telling us to prepare for - salvation, joy, and eternal life!

Advent is a time of preparation and traditionally it takes on the same penitential nature as Lent does prior to Easter. Nowadays our preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior focuses on getting presents, planning holiday gatherings, and navigating the additional traffic and hassle that seems to accompany the Christmas holidays more and more every year.

So while we need to focus on preparing our souls for eternal life, and it's all to easy to get distracted by the other preparations that seem to occupy us this time of year - take a day to remember why we're doing this and try to find time to enjoy this season. If we spend all of our time focusing on how we're getting to our destination and don't spend time enjoying the anticipation we miss out on opportunities to enjoy the journey.

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