Permanent: Monday 3am to 4am and Friday 1am to 2am
Temporary: Tuesday 5am to 6am— 15th & 22nd December
The church calls the third Sunday in Advent, Gaudete (Gaw-day-tay) Sunday. Latin for Rejoice. We should be rejoicing because today’s readings remind us that Jesus, the source of all life, will come again. As the prophet Isaiah wrote in today’s first reading: When the Messiah comes, “everlasting joy will be on their faces, joy and gladness will come and sorrow and lament be ended.”
The first reading (Yr A) is a prophecy given by the prophet Isaiah. The people are living in exile and they are being ruled by foreign power. They are living in extreme poverty and forced to work hard labour. God promises that He will send a Messiah who will free them from captivity. When the Messiah comes: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, the lame shall leap like a deer,” …etc. In other words, when the Messiah comes, He will re-establish His Kingdom. Of course, when the Messiah comes, he will not free us from the rulers of this kingdom on earth. Instead, he will free us from the flesh, the world and the evil one which seek to destroy one’s soul; and destroy any possibility for God’s Kingdom to come.
In the Gospel today we read that Jesus is the Messiah that was prophesied in today’s first reading. Through Jesus “the blind see again, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear and the dead are raised to life.” Through Jesus, His Kingdom has come among us. Therefore, we can begin to live in God’s Kingdom now, while still living in the Kingdom on earth. In the Gospel (Yr A) Jesus said: “Of all children born of a woman, greater than John the Baptist has never been seen.” The question begs: What about Our Lord? He was born of a woman, surely, He is greater than John the Baptist and what about our Blessed Mother? She was born of a woman, surely, she is greater than John the Baptist? Our Lord clarifies His statement by immediately saying: “Yet, the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he (John) is.” Although Our Lord and Our Mother lived on earth they also lived in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told us that our guardian angel, while with us on earth, “always sees the face of God.”
Our Blessed Mother was, as the Bible says, “Full of Grace” or full of God or full of the Holy Spirit. This is also the state of the angels and saints in heaven. They live in God and God lives in them. When Our Blessed Mother appeared to our St Bernadette in 1858, she called herself “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The title “I Am” can only be said by God. On Mt Sinai, God told Moses that his name is “I Am Who Am.” On a number of occasions Jesus called Himself “I Am.” For example, “Before Abraham existed I Am.” And, on that occasion because Jesus claimed He was God, the Jews tried to stone Him to death, for the crime of blasphemy. Our Mother could call herself “I am” because she is full of God, full of the Holy Spirit, full of Jesus. Our Mother is one heart with God. Also, one will and one mind. God wants to work in and through us as powerfully as He did in His Son, Jesus (As he did in his Blessed Mother). God wants to work as powerfully as possible today. As we say no to our will and yes to God’s Will we give permission, if you like, for God ‘to take the reigns’ for God alone to reign in us and no longer ourselves. We think more as Jesus thinks – with His intelligence and wisdom.
Our prayers have the same effect or power as if Jesus Himself had prayed. Our sacrifices or pains have the same merit as if Jesus has them. Our Lord said to Venerable Conchita de Arminda, a mother of 9 children, in Mexico, in 1906: “I want to incarnate Myself mystically in your heart … the grace of living and growing in your soul, never to leave it, to possess you and be possessed by you as one and the same substance … it is the grace of graces. St John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church: “The entire matter of reaching union with God consists in purging the will of its appetites and emotions so that from a human and lowly will, it may be changed into the divine will, made identical with the will of God.” Bl Dina Belanger who died in Canada in 1929: “We are no longer two, Jesus and I, we are one, Jesus alone.” This anointing of the Holy Spirit has been given many terms. Our Lord, when he gave this gift to Ven. Conchita called it, “Mystical Incarnation”. The word incarnation means to be “made into flesh.” At the incarnation, Our Lord was made flesh, or became a human, in the womb of His Mother.
At the Eucharist, Our Lord changes bread into Himself. Today, Our Lord changes our flesh into Himself. We become living hosts, if you like. When the Lord spoke of this gift to St Maximilian Kolbe and Bl Dina Belanger, he called it “Divine Substitution”. St John Paul II recognised this Grace and called it a “New and Divine Holiness”. He wrote: “God Himself had provided to bring about that “new and divine holiness” in which the Holy Spirit wishes to enrich the church at the dawn of the third millennium, in order to make Christ the heart of the world.” Our Mother descried herself (to a Luisa Piccarreta in the 1920’s): “I have my heaven within Me, which was the Divine Will, and I was inseparable from my Creator. The Divine Will being in Me, I felt the rights of daughter, of being with the Divine Persons, of participating in all the joys and happiness, riches and sanctity which They possess, for as much as I could partake of them, filling Me so much as not to be able to contain more. Our Lord’s plan to is restore each of us to the state of the saints in heaven and therefore, to restore His Kingdom on earth which is God’s original plan or purpose for us.
Fr Doug Harris 2020