During moments of reflection, the question of why certain things happen often comes to mind. When we hear bad things happen to good people, we often wonder, “Why is it like that?” This question comes with the corollary, “Why, is it that bad people seem to be having their way?” People become frustrated when these questions aren’t answered satisfactorily. They become hopeless and resigned to fate. Out of frustration, they sometimes even say the extreme, “That it would be better to be bad rather than to be good”.
Joy. Life in the Lord shouldn’t be like that. While some seemingly bad things occur, there are reasons why those events happened. Maybe there are some issues that need to be settled, some lessons that need to be learned. Despite the difficulties, the champion tries to make sense of what’s happening, knowing that the Master Conductor is in control. The music remains a symphony waiting to be heard and appreciated. Will till you hear the finale!
In this Sunday’s reading, the Apostle Paul tells us to,
“Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5: 16-18).
The champ remains joyful, because he believes that life is meant to be a happy experience. Being joyful doesn’t mean the absence of pain. He knows that to stay the course, he chooses to remain faithful. He knows that despite the incompleteness, “life blooms over and over again”.
Prayer. One of the most important lessons that my beloved Mommy Charing has given us is the importance of prayer. She has always stressed the importance of attending Mass, especially on Sundays and other Holy Days. She and my late Dad made it a point to hear daily Masses, even travelling to other places to attend special feast days of the Church. We were strictly not allowed to be absent from family Sunday Mass, since the time we started going to Church with them. It was a rule which we cannot change, and which we also try to bring into our respective families. Our home visits-cum-vacation would always end the day with the recitation of the Holy Rosary and these always conjures memories of constant communication with our God. Prayer ensures that our connectedness to God is maintained and nurtured, despite the threats of the enemy’s efforts to cut off this vital source of power.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord…” (Is. 61: 1-2).
Gaudete Sunday is a counterpart to the Laetare Sunday (during Lent) and provides a similar break about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming.
The spirit of the Liturgy all throughout Advent is one of expectation and preparation for the feast of Christmas as well as for the second coming of Christ, and the penitential exercises suitable to that spirit are thus suspended, as were, for a while in order to symbolize that joy and gladness in the promised Redemption. Symbolically, rose-colored vestments may be worn instead of violet, which is otherwise prescribed for every day in the season of Advent. Despite the otherwise somber readings of the season of Advent, which has as a secondary theme theneed for penitence, the readings on the third Sunday emphasize the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming.
Gratitude. In this eager anticipation we have talked in the previous reflections, we are again reminded to be always grateful. To be thankful in all circumstances, even in sorrow and even in pain. The champion knows that this is part of creative development, of eternal preparation. He expects no less than cleansing and forming, trusting the Lord knows best for him.
As I write these thoughts, the Church prepares for the first of the nine-day Novena Masses heralding the final preparation of the Christ Child’s coming. It always sends shivers up the spine as it also floods childhood memories of Christmas carols and loved ones, of home-made lanterns and the baby crib, of gifts and cool mornings, of chocolate and suman excellently prepared by my beloved Lola Andang. Yes, we continue to make memories and in so doing, we ensure we bring in the right messages to the young and the learning, that in all things be thankful to the Lord.
Gaudete! Rejoice in the Lord always!