Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

Many of us probably are aware that this Sunday is referred to during the season of Advent as Gaudete Sunday — Rejoice Sunday. That’s for good reason, as we heard in the first lesson today from the Prophet Zephaniah: “I will leave within you a poor and weak people who seek refuge in God. The remnant of Israel will not act unjustly nor will they speak falsely. They will eat and rest with none to threaten them. Cry out with joy, O daughter of Zion; rejoice O people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem!”

Certainly a message of joy calling us to joy. When you go to the second lesson today from the letter of St. Paul to the church at Philippi, Paul too has words that call us to joy: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice, and may everyone experience your gentle and understanding heart. The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything. In everything resort to prayer and supplication together with thanksgiving and bring your requests before God. Then the peace of God, which suppresses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

So rejoice, rejoice in the Lord always. Paul says again, “I say it, rejoice.” It’s so clear isn’t it? These lessons call us to joy. Yet when you consider the context of these lessons, it seems extraordinary that both Zephaniah and Paul could be people calling us to joy and obviously people whom experienced great joy themselves. Zephaniah was proclaiming that message at a time when the people were in exile. They were suffering dramatically…

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