Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent
December 14, 2014
Sister Nicole Kunze

Today is Gaudete Sunday. Rejoice, the Lord is near! The word rejoice is in almost every part of the liturgy – from the opening antiphon, the first reading from Isaiah, Mary’s magnificat in the responsorial psalm, and the second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. It is hard to miss.

In Webster’s Dictionary, rejoice is defined as “to give joy to” or “to feel joy or great delight”. I appreciate Kevin Perrotta’s reflection on the word rejoice as it is used in Paul’s First letter to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice here does not mean ‘feel happy’ but ‘find your source of joy and express your thanks’.”

Sister Hannah often speaks of the joy she witnessed in our community while she was discerning her call to religious life. How well do we rejoice or show our joy to others? It is easy to get weighed down with the tasks of our daily lives, whatever they may be and wherever we do them. For me, these last two weeks of the semester, with all the grading and end of semester tasks, is a time when I’m not too joyful. Is that okay? Does one need to be joyful all the time?

As you know, the Year of Consecrated Life began with the first Sunday of Advent. Pope Francis issued a letter in honor of this year. I would like to read to you one of his expectations for this Year:

“That the old saying will always be true: “Where there are religious, there is joy.” We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere; that the authentic fraternity found in our communities increases our joy; and that our total self-giving in service to the Church, to families and young people, to the elderly and the poor, brings us life-long personal fulfillment.”

That is a tall order. I am not always joyful. I’m not sure anyone can always be. The problem is one never knows when or where you will have the opportunity to impact another person with your joyfulness. It could be the guest you greet and assist at Mass, a colleague you pass in the hallway, or a community member at the dinner table. For an introvert like me, it can feel like I always have to be “on”, that there is no down time when I can be not joyful. Again, I ask, is that okay?

A bit later in his letter, Pope Francis addresses the idea of how people are attracted to religious life. “The consecrated life will not flourish as a result of brilliant vocation programs, but because the young people we meet find us attractive, because they see us as men and women who are happy! Similarly, the apostolic effectiveness of consecrated life does not depend on the efficiency of its methods. It depends on the eloquence of your lives, lives which radiate the joy and beauty of living the Gospel and following Christ to the full.”

Our happiness, our rejoicing impacts those with whom we interact, both within our community and outside our community. I’m coming to the conclusion that it is not okay for me to be not joyful. I think it is okay for me to be less joyful from time to time. It reflects to others that I am unhappy or ungrateful and I do not want them to have that impression of me or our community.

Are we joyful? Do we give thanks for our sources of joy? May this Gaudete Sunday and the remaining days of Advent assist us in remembering our sources of joy and giving thanks for them.


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