Each year we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “to rejoice.” In the second reading, we are given the simple command by Christ through his servant St. Paul, “Rejoice always.” These words are part of St. Paul’s final advice to the Thessalonian church in his first letter. He leaves them with a simple theme, which forms the context for the third Sunday of Advent.
We are being called to prepare the way of the Lord through all of the different wildernesses we experience in our daily lives. We need to prepare the way through the desert of our secular society. Most of all, we need to prepare a way through the wilderness of our hearts.
On Nov. 23, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. But Jesus did not appear on earth as we would imagine a king to appear. Jesus seems to be saying that he reigns as king somewhere other than earth, and we know the name of his kingdom: heaven.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus Christ institutes a new order of worship. No longer will we worship by simply offering animals in place of man for man’s sins, nor will we pay the temple tax to make everything right for the sake of observing the law. We are now to join Jesus Christ in offering the one sacrifice that he offers: the Eucharist.
Take a cue from those Christians heroically living their faith today and from the Thessalonian Christians of Paul’s time: In their immediate surroundings, they live the great commandment: love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.
Have you ever thrown a party and a person who you were hoping would come didn’t show up? The wedding feast parable speaks about a similar situation, but it is really speaking about the feast of eternal life with God.
Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but he did not understand how the Messiah could undergo such a fate. Like all of us, what Peter needed was a transformation of his mind.
For the 20th Sunday in ordinary time, the Church gives us three readings about the Gentiles. Our first two readings give us a positive image of the relationship between God and the Gentiles, and I especially like the first reading, Isaiah’s prophecy about “the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord.” But I find the Gospel challenging because I am a Gentile, and so Christ’s interaction with the Canaanite (Gentile) woman is personally disturbing because he seems unwilling to minister to her and, by analogy, to us.
The three parables we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel point to the kingdom of heaven growing here on earth. However, there is tension because the world is not ready to accept the kingdom growing in its midst.