Good evening dear brothers and sisters! Welcome to our 3rd Sunday of Advent! For the first time in seven years and 2 months we are no longer gathered together around Bishop Thomas Dowd, who is now bishop elect of Sault-Ste-Marie Diocese. He served us and offered us his friendship since his ordination to the priesthood December 7th, 2001 and his consecration as Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal September 1oth, 2011. This Thursday, December 17th, he will be installed as 7th Bishop of Sault-Ste-Marie Diocese, Ontario. This week he is moving into his residence and office in Sudbury and will also be working in North Bay and Sault-Ste-Marie. You will be able to take part by Internet in his installation in North Bay via Salt+Light or SSM.
The 1st Candle in our Advent Wreath gave witness to the great reason for our hope: that in Jesus our heavenly Father is eager to grant us forgiveness for our sins and restore our dignity and abundance of life as his children. The 2nd Candle in our Advent Wreath gave witness to the faith of all those who went before us on this journey towards God on Earth and that we too are called to deliberately choose to live our life with complete faith and trust in God through Jesus.
Today, the 3rd Candle in our Advent Wreath gives witness to the nearness of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. The other 3 candles are a beautiful, deep purple, signifying our need to repent of our sins, to accept God’s grace to change our attitudes and behaviours and convert our lives to become more like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Today the 3rd candle is pink, expressing beautifully the JOY which is ours as we come closer and closer to December 24th and 25th; when we will celebrate the Nativity, the Birth of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, Jesus, the Light of the world.
The joy which our God offers us today is not like the joy which people can experience every day in the course of our earthly life. Earthly joy naturally erupts within us when we receive and open a beautifully wrapped present, or have a birthday party, or receive a promotion at work, or get a raise in salary, or when we get married, or witness the birth of a baby. These moments all have their own value, and it is God’s intention that we have moments of joy in our lives.
No, the joy which God offers us today, and every day as his children living in this world, is a supernatural joy; it is a participation in the joy which is in the Most Holy Trinity, and it is a joy which has eternal value because God the Most Holy Trinity is eternal.
This divine JOY erupts within us when we freely choose to use the supernatural gift of faith infused within us by the Holy Spirit and recognize that all that we are and all that we have is coming to us from God, from within the Most Holy Trinity, and is an expression of God’s love.
Today this divine JOY erupts within us by the grace of the Holy Spirit as we approach our celebration of the Nativity of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, Jesus, the Light of the world. As we turn our eyes, minds, hearts, and souls to Jesus, like a bright ray of sunlight the love of God shines upon us and gives supernatural warmth to our spirits; no matter our situation in life.
It is the Holy Spirit who filled Mary with this divine JOY, prompting her to erupt in praise to God in what we now call her Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.” When we permit God to shine his radiant divine light within us, we too erupt with divine JOY. This divine JOY is one of the wondrous characteristics of the eternal beatitude of the saints in Heaven, in the divine Presence of the Most Holy Trinity. We can be aware of this divine JOY when we encounter Jesus in the sacraments, and especially in Holy Communion, when Jesus gives us a transfusion of the divine life He has with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Our body needs to replenish its strength be eating one or more meals each day; so too our spirit needs to be constantly replenished by God.
As our local star the Sun constantly shines forth its light and heat; so too does God the Most Holy Trinity constantly shine forth divine light and the fire of divine love. However, just as our rotating Earth plunges us into darkness and cold every night; so too can we plunge ourselves into the cold and dark of distance from God by our choice of thoughts, attitudes, words, actions, and behaviours. It is true that some thoughts, emotions, and gestures erupt from within us as if without our consent; so God does not blame us for those human faults. However, God as our loving Father, does discipline us and lovingly expects us to make efforts to “clean up our act” in order to give more room to the expansion of love, to make efforts to spread attitudes of kindness and compassion, and to spread the works of mercy.
That is why this Late Sunday Mass is the foundational activity of Catholic Action Montreal; as intended by Bishop Tom Dowd, and as maintained and developed by the leadership of CAM and all those who bring their cooperation to this great communal work of love and mercy. John the Baptist baptized with water to give the people an opportunity to decide to turn away from all that is evil and become free to live their lives in the company and spirit of the living God.
Jesus continues to offer God’s mercy to all who desire his forgiveness, to unburden our heart to love God and others as we love ourselves, in purity of heart. In addition, Jesus refills us with the Holy Spirit, without whose power we are often powerless to change. If you haven’t been to confession in a long time, now would be a good time to do it while there is still time.
So let us continue to pray for one another that we might accept the encouragement and grace of the Holy Spirit to open wide our heart, our mind, our spirit and even our body to the presence and the love of God: the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us take a few moments in silence to reflect on this Good News spoken to us by the Lord.
© 2006-2021 All rights reserved
Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate &
Poustinik, Montreal QC
© 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC