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Rejoice Always

by Jack Tierney, OSA

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!

You can use this to impress your religion teachers: it’s a real easy principle – when the Bible says something twice, that means it’s important!

I shall say it again: Rejoice! 

On this Gaudete Sunday, the Church invites us to pray in hope and joy. More than any other Sunday out of the year, we celebrate the joy and peace that our Savior and Redeemer brings to the world, and to our hearts. 

Perhaps the sacred mysteries are a little abstract. However, I hope we all have moments of joy from every day life. 

  • When a student studies really hard and finally earns that A on a test. That makes me rejoice. 
  • When a homeless person receives a meal and a bed for the night. That makes me rejoice. 
  • When I see a little kid kneeling next to his bed to say his prayers at night. That makes me rejoice. 

All of these are just good; little moments of happiness and comfort insofar as we can experience it on this earth. We see them, we try to make them, we try to share them. 

How much more will these little moments be in heaven – when we will join Christ and the angels and the Saints –in the resounding chorus of praise for all eternity!

Then, as Scripture says, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

It is these little moments of joy that show us the way…  to something even greater. 

In the Gospels, the crowds knew that John the Baptist was special. He might have been a little strange (eating locusts and sleeping in the wilderness) but he was AUTHENTIC. Something (or someone) had moved his soul, and he brought that enthusiasm to everything that he did. 

John knew joy. And shared that joy in his ministry. With his great popularity, and powerful preaching, John had the crowds in the palm of his hand. He baptized and created disciples. They were ready to follow John the Baptizer to the death. 

So the crowds asked John, what should we do?

The tax collectors asked him, what should we do?

The soldiers asked him, what should we do?

And John gives, I think, some pretty good answers….

  • Be generous with food and clothing. Rejoice in giving the poor. 
  • Be fair and just with your money. Rejoice in having enough. 
  • Don’t cause trouble and be satisfied with your wages. Rejoice that God has blessed your work. 

And people listened. 

We might ask the same question, what should WE do?

And the answer is not an instruction to just “be happy.” For that is an impossible task. 

Ultimate joy isn’t found in just smiling more or laughing seven times a day. Those who have been in darkness know that this is just not the case.

The genius of this Sunday is not the behaviors that John encouraged, even though they do bring joy in the Lord. The simple power of this week is John’s relentless proclamation of something greater than himself. Towards something that could truly create rejoicing for the world. 

He had a lot to say about what provides human happiness. Good things. However he pointed to the source of all goodness , to the divine. Faith, hope, and love in the coming of Jesus. 

John says I am not the Christ. I am not the one to bring rejoicing, because “I can’t” but He can.  

He will renew the face of the earth and baptize with the Holy Spirit. The Messiah will do that. Not me. 

The fire of the Holy Spirit is coming to set our hearts on fire. To break us out of sadness and darkness and despair. 

I am preparing the way of the Good News. Yes, rejoice in the good things of God now – but just wait!  The Chosen One is coming. The Messiah will change everything! He will give you rejoicing for all time. 

What should we do? Rejoice and wait for Jesus to come. 

Then – HE will tell all of us what we should do.

On that day of salvation, joy will fill our hearts. There will be no fear, no anxiety, no indifference. Because there will be no room for those misgivings. There will only be room for exultant praise!

So what should we do?

Give thanks, as best we can, wherever we are in this week – or this season. Also get ready – for something EVEN BETTER is coming soon. For Salvation is at hand.  

Jesus is coming and he is closer now than ever…. Rejoice for the coming Messiah!

We share the blessings of God already present in those little moments of joy in our lives. So we should study hard for those tests. We should rejoice in charity as the weather gets colder. We should rejoice in prayer. 

This is the time for exultation and celebration. Our God has come. God is coming… 

Jesus has come for us.

Jesus has come for the nations. 

Jesus has come for all of time. 

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

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