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Contents: Volume 2 - The 3rd SUNDAY of ADVENT - Gaudete Sunday -12-09-18


The 3rd





1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)






Advent 3 C

The opening Latin word in Sunday's Mass is "Gaudete" so historically, this Sunday is Gaudete Sunday... we are told to rejoice! The letter to the Philippians says "always" and with "no anxieties at all". How are we to make this attitude adjustment (perhaps a major one) given the world in which we live and the sometimes not so uplifting circumstances around us?

God always has a Plan... we just need to follow it more closely. No matter where you put the "R" for Rejoice, either at the beginning or the middle or the end of the Plan, it needs to be there at least once, but frequently is best! Why?... because the Plan includes other "R's" too. It includes the God initiated opportunities to Repent, Refresh, and Recalculate.

For me, this is also "catch your breath" Sunday although there are no such words in Scripture or the Mass that say this. After reflecting on the readings, I re-focus and remember the many attributes of God and simply relax (some more "r's" ) . I can only do what I can do; God does the rest.

Well, not entirely because I/we must also respond to the Gospel question asked of John the Baptist: "What should we do?" John the Baptist (and later Jesus and all preachers) gave the crowd some sound advice then he continued to exhort them and preach the Good News. My pastor, Fr. Jack, often tells us "Do the next right thing."

What a powerful Gospel message and one that has a pertinent application wherever someone is on the journey! It is applicable to anyone and everyone, regardless of age or any other circumstance. Our loving God continues to shower us with blessings rather than condemnation, so all we really need is to respond by doing " the next right thing"...and REJOICE!!!


Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete SundayDecember 16 2018

Zephaniah 3:14-18; Responsorial Canticle Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Gospel Acclamation Isaiah 61:1; Luke 3:10-18

We’re in the Pink this third Sunday of Advent. We put aside for this week the purple of penance and mortification. Children realize we’re coming close to Christmas and the lights, the trees, the carols, the coming of St. Nicholas, aka Santa Claus. The thought of the coming soon of this celebration of daylight coming back into the world lifts up hearts burdened with the cold and damp of winter. There is hope; there is joy at the prospect of a coming spring. The sun will shine again, awakening the earth from its necessary slumber. Tulips and daffodils will herald a new season of growth and fruitfulness. Well at least that’s the case in the northern hemisphere of our common home. The simplicity of the change of season from autumn to winter has an effect on our spirits.

The readings this Sunday are all about hope and the joy that such hope brings. Children of affluent households hope for specific gifts. Adults hope for a change in the season and the warmth of a coming spring. It seems an ill founded joy. Winter is just beginning and yet we are delighted to know spring is a short time away. It’s time to clean up the debris that collected in the yard. It’s time to prepare for the coming of new growth on trees and shrubs. Flower beds and vegetable gardens, even window boxes are cleared to make room.

The first reading is from Zephaniah, a prophet we hear from only a little. He spoke in Jerusalem more or less in the years 640_630 before the birth of Jesus. It was a very scary time. The Assyrian empire had just defeated the armies of Egypt and of Babylon. Their influence reached into Jerusalem and idolatry was common among its inhabitants. Zephaniah announced the Day of the Lord, a time in which the Lord would come in judgment of the nations. While the Assyrian empire seemed at the peak of their dominance, a fierce army of Scythians were swarming into the Middle East from the north. Those tribes were not interested in domination and rule. Their efforts were at pillaging the wealth of Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. Those barbarian tribes would bring the Day of the Lord in judgment against the powers of Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. This threat should be a warning to God’s People to bring them to repentance of their embrace of the idols of foreign nations. It was an opportunity for Israel to return to obedience to God’s will. It was a call for humility that accepted the need for the Lord’s presence. God’s will for all creation is that it thrive and flourish. Sin, in Zephaniah consists of pride, revolt against God’s will, lying, and lack of faith in the Lord and failure to love. Zephaniah brings out the understanding of the poor, what is called the Anawim, the "little people." He tells of a remnant that will remain in the city, a few left behind after the wars and slaughter and exile. The hordes descending on the nations from the north are in fact an occasion for repentance and purification of the people. That purification and repentance finds a place in the lives of the Anawim and the remnant. There is joy among those little ones. We should take to heart in our time and place his encouragement. "Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals."

Our responsorial to the first reading is from the prophet Isaiah, the first book of Isaiah written about the great threat to the nation. He insists that "God is my savior; I am confident and unafraid." Isaiah repeats the message of Zephaniah. Be joyful for God is the Lord who saves us from the threats of nations. We can see in this song of response and we should embrace this hope for the presence of the Lord among us. Over and over again in the Hebrew Scriptures we see this theme. God is present with us. The very name the Lord names himself to Moses at the burning bush means "I am the one who is with you!" God does not take away our fears, the threats to our safety, the evil of nations against us, nor even the evil that threatens us from within our own nation.

Paul writing to the Philippians shouts to us through them. "Rejoice in the Lord always! I shall say it again rejoices!" Then he adds this strange line: "your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God." Paul insists we should be confident that God is with us, that God cares for us, that God will see us through whatever the evil in the world throws at us. How much of our time is spent in anxiety, in fear of what evil might come our way. This is no Pollyanna-ish view of human life. Paul doesn’t deny evil. Neither does Zephaniah or Isaiah. Evil is real, evil is near us. But God is also near us and is coming to be our savior from what can harm us.

In Luke’s gospel we hear about John, the cousin of Jesus. He preaches to those who come out into the desert near the river Jordan to find hope. What other reason would men and women come out from the comforts of the city but to find hope for their condition, from their fears, and from their anxieties? They ask John what should they do. John speaks of repentance. The Greek word used by Luke to describe repentance means more than just saying, "I’m sorry." Metanoia means a turning away from – a turning toward. It is at the same time a rejection as well as an embracing of something new. There seem to be two classes of people asking John what they should do to turn away from, turn toward. The little people, the Anawim of Zephaniah, ask the question. These are the poor, those without wealth, lacking power, and without influence to change their own circumstances. John treats these little ones differently than the tax collectors and the soldiers. The little ones John tells them to share what little they have with those who have less. These little ones are those who cannot afford to steal or lie or cheat others. These little ones can only survive; can only hope to thrive by recognizing their littleness. They live their lives heavily dependent on their communities. They must care about each other; they must treat each other with integrity and truthfulness.

John seems to be saying to the tax collectors and the soldiers that they should repent of their dishonesty and lack of concern for others. These tax collectors and soldiers were notoriously avaricious and greedy in their relationship with the people. John insists these persons of power and authority must fulfill their offices with integrity and honor.

Luke continues this narrative by noting that there was an air of expectation in the people. John responds to this expectation by saying, "you’ve not seen anything yet. While I accept and confirm your will to repent of your past living by washing you with water, the one whose coming I am telling you about will come and wash you with the Spirit and with fire." The Baptist’s call to repentance and a change in life is a preparation for the one who will bring to the people a new breath of God. The spirit of which John speaks is the very life of God. Just as the Creator stooped to breath into the nostrils of a clay form and gave that clay life in the form of Adam, so also this coming one will breathe new and vibrant life into humanity who has been prepared by a turning away from the Way of the World. And that new life will be like fire lighting up those lives with hope, with faith, and with love. Those who are unprepared will be burned by the fire as chaff from the thrashing floor is burned. Only those hearts and minds that are prepared and have repented of selfishness, of murder, of idolatry, of theft, of dishonesty, and of lies will be lifted up.

We live in troubled times. There is terrible conflict, terrible abuse of humanity, horrific torture, and unfathomable abuse of children, women, and persons of different race, language, national origin, gender, and creed. Where can we go in these troubled times? If we are among the Anawim, if we are part of the remnant of those persons who seek truth live according to the truth of human life, then we should join with Zephaniah and Isaiah, and Paul, and Luke in their proclamation of hope. This is not an empty hope; this is not a hope that demands nothing of us. This hope insists we must turn around our lives. We may not be liars, we may not be adulterers, we may not be murderers, and we may not be thieves. But there are places in our hearts and minds that can stand some cleaning up. There are bits and pieces of the Way of the World that continue to block the presence of the Lord within us. It’s time to clean once again our houses and prepare to welcome the Lord into our homes. But not only our homes! Let us bring the Lord, the Christ into our work places, our places of entertainment, our places of worship, our places of learning. Rejoice, again I say rejoice! For the Lord is near at hand to those who have prepared their hearts and minds to receive him! May it be so!

Carol & Dennis Keller






One day a preacher on the Melbourne Yarra Bank tried to make real for his listeners, the message of John the Baptist today. 'If you had two houses,' he said, 'you would give one of them away to the poor, wouldn't you?' 'Oh, yes,' said the man closest to him, I certainly would.' The preacher went on: 'And if you had two motor cars, you would keep one and give the other away, wouldn't you?' 'Yes, of course', said the same man. The preacher continued. 'And if you had two shirts, you would give one away, wouldn't you?' 'Just a minute,' said the man this time, 'I haven't got two houses. I haven't got two motor cars. But I have got two shirts. I'm not so sure now that I would give one away.'

This time the message hit home. Here was something personal, something pointed, something practical. Here was a real challenge that triggered off a genuine struggle to respond to the demands of the message.

Something like this is happening to the people who go out to the desert to listen to the preaching of John the Baptist. He implores them to turn away from sin and turn to God, and to express their sorrow for their sins and be forgiven by being washed in the waters of the Jordan River. He is offering them what they know deep down they really need - a brand new start, a brand new way of living. But they are not sure what it all entails.

The people in general and particular groups among them ask John the same question: 'What must we do, then?' They receive answers which boil down to three straight-forward rules of life: - 1. Share with others both food and clothing. 2. Be fair and just in your dealings with others, never cheating anyone. 3. Don't bully others or push them around.

The power of John's preaching and personality makes a deep impression on the crowds. They begin to ask one another: 'Can this be God's chosen leader, the messiah?' John puts them right: 'I have washed you with water,' he says, 'as a sign that your hearts should be made clean. But someone stronger than I is on his way; I am not good enough even to bend down like a slave and untie his sandals. He will bring you the full power of God, the Holy Spirit. He’ll really change your mind, your heart, your attitudes, your behaviour, your whole self. He'll be like a farmer at harvest when, wooden shovel in hand, he's cleaning the grain on his threshing floor - storing the wheat in the barn and making a bonfire of the straw.'

This message of John the Baptist hits the spot with us. We are living in the time of the first coming of the Messiah, his coming at Bethlehem. Right now we are preparing to celebrate his birth, and, as our Opening Prayer puts it today, to celebrate it with love and thanksgiving.

So, our time of preparation for the feast of Christmas is much more than getting in the goodies for eating and drinking and making merry on Christmas Day. It's a time for heeding the message of John the Baptist on the meaning of God's special coming into our lives in the person of His Son.

So we are led to ask ourselves. 1. How widely and deeply will I share with other people this Christmas, especially with those who are the poorest and the most neglected in my community? 2. How fair and just am I going to be with the people in my life? 3. Will I stop once and for all putting others down, hurting their feelings, or bossing them around?

'The Lord is very near,’ St Paul reminds us in the second Reading. So near in fact that the other Readings insist: 'The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst', and 'among you is the great and Holy One of Israel'.

The presence and the gift of Jesus Christ to us invite us to make a triple response. In the first place, God says to us in the Readings, 'Shout for joy ... shout aloud', 'cry out with joy and gladness', 'rejoice, exult with all your heart', 'be happy, always happy in the Lord'. In the second place, God asks us to change our lives, as John the Baptist has suggested. In the third place, God suggests that we pray: 'There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it ...'

As we move now from the celebration of the Word of God to our meeting with Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist, let us remember the triple response to the coming of Christ which God invites. 1. Let us rejoice, 2. let us ask God for whatever we need, and 3. let us open our hearts and lives to living as both John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah have taught us to live.

"Brian Gleeson CP" <>





Year C: 3rd Sunday of Advent ("Gaudete Sunday")

‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

What exactly does it mean to be "baptised in the Holy Spirit"?

Well, if you ask a theologian, he’ll tell you that it is just simply what it is to be a Christian – to have one’s entire life imbued with the Holy Spirit not just in the next Life, but in this one – to have the Holy Spirit live within you and work through you throughout your life to build God’s Kingdom in this world. That is what makes you God’s person in the world. That is what makes you a Christian. Well, that’s all very fine, but to be honest, I would have to admit that sometimes I find it quite difficult to see how all of that actually happens just as a result of pouring a little water on a baby’s head.

Well, some years ago, on the afternoon of New Year’s Day, I was just settling down to watch the cricket on the television. And I have to tell you I am a serious, serious, SERIOUS cricket fan - nothing, absolutely nothing, gets in front of the cricket. And I had just got properly comfortable in front of the telly, the first ball was about to be bowled, and in honour of our opponents, a bottle of Red Stripe was open on the table. (And if you don’t happen to know what that is, then it’s not for me to corrupt you!) So, in that solemn and critical moment, there came a knock on the door. The postman, they say, always rings twice; well, desperate people always knock and they always knock three times.

To tell you the God’s honest truth, I wasn’t immediately sure I wanted to answer it, but I did. It was a man who wanted to see a priest and, well…

Yes, it was important,

No, it couldn’t wait;

Yes, it really did have to be right now.

So I smiled my sweetest smile – really I did! I brought him in, I sat him down, very reluctantly I turned the television off, and I listened to him. And this is what he said to me:

"It’s my sister. She’s in hospital. She’s really sick. We think she’s dying. The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with her but they think it’s cancer. To be honest, Father, she’s not actually a Catholic and she isn’t normally very religious. In fact, none of the family is really. She was baptised as a child and she’s always been a good woman, but she’s never really been involved in any church. But she never forgot that she had been baptised and that she was a Christian.

And now, she thinks she’s dying. So she asked us to find a priest or a minister – or someone – to come and pray with her. I’ve been round all the churches in the city, but it’s New Year’s Day and they’re all locked up – this is the first place I’ve got an answer at the door. Will you come?"

Well now, I wouldn’t want you to go doubting my commitment to the Sacred Game, but when a man puts it like that, I have to admit that, even the Cricket doesn’t seem quite as important. So, we went together and found her – in the intensive care unit, very sick, but still just about able to respond. I anointed her – you don’t have to be a Catholic to be anointed. And I said the Rosary with her and her family. And after that, she fell asleep.

And then her friends and family started to tell me about her

- about all the good things she had done in her life;

- about all the people that she had helped;

- all the people whose lives she had touched;

- all the people who would miss her and remember her with love.

And it occurred to me that this was someone who had indeed been baptised - someone in whom the grace of baptism had very clearly been at work throughout her life. Even in a very hidden and unrecognised way, the Holy Spirit had been at work in her throughout her life, building her faith, her relationships, her family, her love – making her God’s person in the world – making her a Christian.

And at the end of her life – when she needed it the most– she had been blessed with the Holy Spirit:

she had found her peace with her family

with her friends

with the Church

and with God.

That’s about the best any of us can hope for in this world.

And so I came away from her bedside with a solemn promise to myself that I would never – ever – ever again - underestimate the power, the gift, the grace of baptism.

That is the grace that we have all received.

That is the responsibility that we have all undertaken.

That is the baptism with which we have all been reborn.

Let us pray that we too may live up to the promises of our baptism;

that we too may be God’s people in the world;

and that we too may be Christians worthy of the name.

Let us stand and profess our Faith in God who has baptised us with His Spirit.

Paul O'Reilly SJ <>





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