Sunday, December 13, 2015

Gaudete Sunday

How dare we rejoice this morning? So much pain and conflict, too many refugees, wounded and murdered victims of the terrorism that seems to be stalking us; so many still grieving in Paris, San Bernardino, all through the Middle East, over and over. It may seem like a mockery of their memory and suffering or a hairbrained attempt at distracting ourselves from too much pain, constant fear and premonition- as if Advent or Christmas were an anti-depressant. But, there’s something more. The Church does not invite us to rejoice as some kind of liturgical diversion. Just the opposite; this rejoicing is a very real summons to awakeness. For we dare to rejoice only and foremost because, as the prophet Zephaniah tells us this morning, we are being rejoiced over. God is rejoicing over us, promising us that he is with us, always drawing near.

We dare to rejoice because hope, mercy and compassion are with us and always coming closer in Christ Jesus our Lord, the God of all consolation. Hope is beside us. Not false hope (there’s never ever been anything false about hope) for now in Christ, Hope is a Person who is searching for us. Love and mercy are relentlessly coming to us as an undeserved and surprising gift. The prophets, Isaiah and today Zephaniah, remind us that “a pattern of reversal” is unfolding in our midst.” And we are being invited to collaborate in the divine subterfuge. For God is taking disaster, pain and contradiction as his opportunity for grace, and he begs our cooperation.

Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

Photograph of Abbey window by Brother Daniel.