12 December 2021 at Saint William Catholic Church in Naples, FL
Zephaniah 3, 14-18 + Psalm (Isaiah) 12, 2-6 + Philippians 4, 4-7 + Luke 3, 10-18
There is plenty of reason to hear the words of the Prophet this morning and move his message into some kind of “Archive File” thinking that he was speaking to someone else a long time ago. One obvious reason for doing so is that there is plenty reason these days not to rejoice. Facing life for too many easily makes rejoicing just too much of a challenge. Personal, family, church, and social conflicts are way too many, and we constantly facing our weakness, our sinfulness, and our helplessness. For some this experience seems to explode with violence, hateful talk, blaming, and name-calling and fear.
It cannot be so for people of faith. Even when inflation soars, food banks struggle to feed the growing number of hungry people, and a pandemic lingers we do not surrender what faith can provide. Even with political corruption, racial injustice, and with our borders becoming unwelcoming places of conflict, we do not surrender to resentment, frustration, exhaustion, and impatience.
The words and spirit of our liturgy today and even the color of this vestment are reminders that a new day is dawning. This isn’t pink. It is the color of the morning sky.
All of this is the church’s way of stirring our hope that despite all failure in the past God is here. God is working. We will not fall apart or fall into despair. It is so easy to convince ourselves that we are victims and powerless. So, today the living Word of God reminds us to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.
There is an indestructible power greater than the power of ambition, greed, and selfish individualism. Without it, we might cling to misery and apathy believing that we can’t do anything except moan and complain shrugging off everything that troubles and keeps this world from peace by thinking or saying: “That’s just the way it is. No, it isn’t. Discord and some suffering are part of life and cannot be controlled. Yet, we cannot fail to see that what we long and hope for is something we already have. In the old days we called them Virtues: Faith, Hope, Charity. We call them virtues because they give strength. They hold up the week and encourage the powerless. They are gifts of the Holy Spirit which we too often fail to draw upon.
Faith that God’s creation is not finished, and neither are we. Faith brings an assurance that God has things under control even when we do not. Hope keeps us looking forward not backward. Confident that the Kingdom of God is in our midst, and Jesus Christ has not abandoned us because he promised to remain with us always. Charity or “Love” allows us to see the beauty and goodness that is all around us and treasure the companionship of those who love us and care for us as friends.
With these virtues, there is nothing to fear and no need for anxiety as St Paul says to us today. It is time to rejoice because faithful people live with Joy. We can forget about what happens tomorrow and beyond living this day in peace. We can control what we can and forget about what we cannot. If we don’t there will be no joy. We are God’s friends, and we have been given the Virtues we need, and it is time to accept them as a tender and loving blessing. Doing so will make it easy to shout for joy and to sing joyfully rejoicing always in the Lord.