Brothers and sisters of St. Patrick: you should know the routine by now. . . I am Paul and I am writing to you during this busy season of Advent just to remind you of a few things. . .
But before I get to the gist of what I have to say today – I want to tell you to REJOICE! For this is Gaudete or rejoicing Sunday – always observed on this 3rd Sunday of Advent. We get to rejoice – and wear rose vesments – because time is passing – we are half way through Advent – and our salvation draws ever nearer.
So rejoice – smile a little today – and make everyone wonder what you are up to!
So just a little review before we move on. The world is in a totally different place this time of year than the heart of a Christian should be. So the first week of Advent I reminded you to stay awake! And to pay attention – not to what the world is telling you or where it is trying to lead you --- but to what God wants to tell you and to where God wants to lead you.
I challenged you to quietly turn inward rather than frantically outward – to prepare a place in your heart for Christ to come and dwell anew. I hope you have actually tried to do that. If not, then it isn’t too late. . .
Last week the challenge was to REPENT—to feel remorse or regret for what you have done or for what you have failed to do. I asked you to work on feeding your eagle, the best part of yourself – by quieting your heart and your life – by listening and waiting – and by falling in love with Jesus all over again.
This, too, I hope you have taken the time to do. If not, then it’s not too late.
So now, let’s consider a third obstacle to deal with in our lives coming from this week’s readings – DOUBT: to be uncertain or skeptical about; to tend to disbelieve or distrust.
John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus: “are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another. . .?”
John, as we heard, is in prison. John had put all his eggs in one basket preparing the way for the Lord – and now he is starting to doubt whether or not that chose the right basket! Perhaps Jesus ISN’T the one. . .
Jesus simply reassures John that he has made the right choice – the right commitment. And he should have no lingering doubts.
So let’s talk about doubt for a bit. . .
It is possible to get so immersed – so caught up in the false gods of the world --- that we fail to recognize the need to be saved. But everyone has a need for a savior – because everyone has the need to be saved from SOMETHING. . .
Have no doubt about it--- Jesus wants to be your savior. He can save you from your sins, from your fears, from your negativity, from your compulsions and addictions, from the bad relationship you are in – Jesus wants to be your savior.
But sometimes people get confused in thinking they can be saved by someTHING, rather than someONE. And that’s when the ways of the world can take over our lives:
buy this, and you just hae to have this, and be sure to get this while it is on sale --- having more stuff will make you happy!
A Christian dares to believe that Christ is the reality beyond and beneath and around all things: visible and invisible. And that Christ provides for us and loves us and blesses us AND saves us. . . Christ is the one who fulfills us and makes us happy ---- Have no doubt!
But let’s also talk about having doubts about who we are – or more precisely – doubts about who we are called to be.
We usually think of adolescence as the time to be figuring out who we are – and while a lot of identity work is done in the teenage years – we really spend our entire lives discovering and rediscovering who we are.
A big part of our identity comes form who we are in relationship with: so we are a wife – in relationship with a husband. We are a father – in relationship with our children. We are a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, a parishioner, a student – all because we are in relationship.
But don’t forget – Christianity is not just a religion or a philosophy – but a relationship – and a way of life. . .
our relationship with Jesus Christ should be THE defining relationship we have – because it determines our conduct and character: it determines who we are or should be, our relationship with Christ determines what we stand for, the values we hold to to as a person.
Living out our identity as those who know Jesus is never a done deal ---- every day we need to discover anew who Jesus is – and then we make choices revealing to others the Jesus whom we have come to know.
Others either see us acting as Christ acted, speaking as Christ spoke, caring as Christ cared, loving as Christ loved, giving as Christ gave ----
Or they DO NOT. . .
Have no doubt about it – Jesus is the defining relationship in your life. Have no doubt about who you are and who you are called to be.
Finally, my brothers and sisters – heed the advice of my colleague, James, a pillar in the early church: BE PATIENT – with yourself AND with one another.
We are all works in progress – God isn’t quite finished with any of us just yet --- so be patient, and don’t complain. Lift each other up with words of encouragement. Be slow to judge and quick to forgive. . . And then the world, especially your little part of it --- will be a better place. AND DON’T FORGET TO REJOICE!
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Kansas City, Missouri
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