The third weekend of Advent is upon us and is known as Gaudete Sunday. It signals the approach of Joy for the Christmas Season, the birth of our Lord, and awaiting his return. Watch at the beginning of mass and you will see and hear why it is called Gaudete Sunday. It comes from our entrance antiphon at this weekend’s mass. Gaudete in Domino Semper! Latin for Rejoice in the Lord always! If you listen carefully at mass this weekend you will hear this theme of rejoicing everywhere! The first reading from Isaiah points to the good news, a year of favor, comfort, rejoicing, salvation, and justice. The second reading you will hear rejoice always! The Gospel according to John you will hear about John the Baptist who from the desert testifies to the light that has come into the world. You may be asking now, what is there to rejoice about? COVID-19 has caused many to suffer, many of our loved ones passed away, we cannot do the many things in community that we used to without some restriction. We feel cut off, closed in, wearing masks and disinfecting everything! How will I help others rejoice this season? This Sunday reminds us that even in the darkest times there is cause to rejoice! God will not and cannot be denied. He is not bound by temporal issues. He breaks through all boundaries. He will restore, reclaim, and redeem what has been lost through sinfulness. This Advent time is especially important for us to remember to prepare our hearts to let Jesus in so he can help us make a change. That change is to realize he is still in charge even through the dark times, in fact he showed us he can and will conquer those times. Yes, there was suffering and pain on the way to the cross. Yet, he showed us that through the dark his light will shine through. The dark is temporary, but the light is forever!
Last year I spoke about Moonbeams for Sweet Dreams at Beaumont Hospital’s pediatric and pediatric care intensive units (PICU). They invited people to gather outside their building with flashlights to shine those lights toward the windows of those units. They wanted to show those children that are closed off from others that they are not alone. The beams of light shone brightly to comfort the children before they went to sleep. During this pandemic, the staff at Beaumont are not deterred by lockdowns and they continued the program this year. Instead of inviting a large crowd outside the windows, they gave each child who was admitted to pediatrics or the PICU a bag full of goodies called a moonbeam pack. It includes fairy lights, glow sticks, light up toys, a flashlight, and an invite to participate in moonbeams for sweet dreams next year outdoors (there is your faith!) Beaumont is also asking the community to record and send in video messages for the children for sweet dreams. I watched many of these online and they are Great! Talking dogs wishing a good night and sweet dreams, puppets, other children, and families. All delivering a little comfort and joy this year! This is how we can help others rejoice. We can smash down those barriers, like Jesus has done for us! We can share Christ’s example to all we meet. Last week while driving through the local Starbucks, I was treated by the driver ahead of me paying for my coffee! Small things really mean a lot, especially in these tough times. The parish staff at St. Isidore are hard at work in breaking down barriers. We will be offering many virtual experiences for our “Turn on the Light” journey, so that everyone can encounter the Lord. Let us not forget to count those blessings we do have and rejoice with the Lord. It does not stop after these seasons, however, let us keep the light shining! Our salvation is at hand! Gaudete in Domino Semper!