REJOICE! Gaudete! 3rd Sunday of Advent, Be Thankful!
Priests should wear pink and the reading remind us of many of the same things as the previous weeks with one very important difference. Gaudete translates to rejoice and we need to remember to rejoice in all things, but Paul gives us another insight. At reading from Thessalonians calls us to be thankful in all circumstances. Can we even be thankful in all things?
How many times to we ride an elevator, drive between point A and B, order food all without trouble. I have no idea as a pastor, how many times the elevators at St. Pius X go up and down, but I do know that as soon as one of them is out, my phone starts going off. Are we thankful for the days without traffic, or for the elevators that show up as expected or food orders that are correct? Most of us just move on, but when anything goes wrong we remember it, we seem more inclined to react when things don’t go well. What if we look at things more substantial. Our heart beats over 100,000 times in 24 hours, do we give thanks for that? We breath over 30,000 times a day, do we give thanks for that? Yet if one of those two stop, we stop!
Paul calls us to be thankful in all things. I had a friend in the seminary who returned one fall with a camel with a 24 on it. When asked he would tell you that if a camel can go 24 days with out water, he could go 24 hours w/o a drink. He would tell people he was a grateful recovering alcoholic. That struck me as very wrong when he first said it. But he would explain all he had learned through recovery that he wouldn’t have learned otherwise and he was grateful.
Are we thankful in all circumstances? Most of us have to answer that with a no. We are not thankful for tests of our faith and the challenges in life, but we should be. Paul is telling us that we need to be. So how do we do that?
I think there are three ways we have to approach this:
In our thoughts. Our thinking determines much of who and what we are. A high producing REALTOR that I know, would walk neighborhoods and get multiple listings in an hour. She believed people wanted and needed her to sell their house, her attitude/thinking made her much more productive than almost any other agent.
Do we start our days alive, excited and full of energy? Are we the Good morning God type, or the good God morning person? Our thinking rules the day!
Socially is important too. Those we hang out with change us and in some ways control our thinking. How was Pooh so happy with Eeyore around? Those around us can bring us up or down. We need to be around those that we are either bringing to the faith or those helping us in our faith. We need to be around those excited for each day!
Finally, Spiritually. In the old days we would ask if people used God as a Dictionary or just when needed. Today we could say use God like Google, only going there when we were in need. When we are sick, are we thankful? Are we thankful when things go wrong for the opportunity to learn and excel? Do we see God in all things and all people?
Days left this Advent!
Can we use this last week to work on the above? I don’t think we have a choice. Our God entered the world as humbly as conceivable so that we might believe. We now need to prepare this Advent so that on Christmas we can have that experience of the Word Incarnate that will deepen our faith and deepen our desire to be the presence of that Word to all we encounter, both in good times and in tough times.
As Paul tells us, we have to be Thankful in all circumstances!