Fr. Norman Rotert was a masterful preacher in our diocese. His last parish assignment was Visitation Parish where a group of people put together a book of some of his homilies. In the one for the 3rd Sunday of Advent he began his homily with the following story.
You know, once upon a time, but not so long ago, there was a family who, when dad came home from work on Christmas Eve, began to pack up to go spend the Christmas weekend with their grandmother. They carried all sorts of food and clothes and gifts to the family van. By the time they had it packed, it was dark. During all this coming and going there was a thief standing in the shadows watching it all, waiting for them to leave. When they drove off he waited for a while to make sure they wouldn’t come back for something they may have forgotten. Then, using his professional skills, he picked the door lock and let himself in. Just to make sure, when he stepped inside the door, he cried out, “Is anybody home?” And a voice came back out of the dark saying, “I see you and Jesus sees you.” And the thief was a bit frightened. He said, “Who’s speaking?” And the voice came back, “I see you and Jesus sees you.” So, the thief turned on his flashlight and shined it in the direction of the voice and there was a birdcage with a parrot in it. And the parrot said, “I see you and Jesus sees you.” And the thief laughed with relief as he switched on the light. And there below the cage was a big
Doberman pinscher. And the parrot said, “Get him, Jesus.”
Today is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means rejoice, to enter into the joy that comes with the presence of God and our experience of the love of God in our lives. And that is huge.
John the Baptist appears again today on our liturgical stage. People are asking him what should we do. He doesn’t ask them to make a radical change in their lives. He doesn’t ask them to stop being tax collectors or soldiers. He says do your job with honesty and integrity. Don’t take advantage of people. Don’t abuse people. Be decent human beings. Live at peace with your neighbor. And to the whole crowd he said be generous. Be generous with what you have. Share what you have with others especially those who have less.
Mark Twain said that in a different way. He said we can’t experience the fullness of joy unless we divide it and give part of it to someone else. Or the great philosopher Rousseau said a joyful man dies clutching nothing in his hand except what he has given away. If we’re going to be joyful people, it’s going to be expressed in lives of generosity.
As we enter into the Year of Mercy, it is good for us to be aware of the ways we experience mercy in our lives. Like the people in today’s Gospel we ask, what should we do. One of the ways we experience mercy in our church is when we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This week there are three opportunities for us celebrate this sacrament.
Sunday, 12/13/15, at Presentation Parish.
Wednesday, 12/16/15, at Holy Spirit Parish.
Thursday, 12/17/15, at St. Robert Parish in Blue Springs.
Each of these services begin at 7:00 p.m. I encourage you to come to one of them and celebrate God’s mercy. It is a good way to know the joy that today’s liturgy calls us to.