Say Yes to God

In the second reading at Mass this weekend we are encouraged to “Rejoice in the Lord always” and “do not worry about anything”, but in every prayer and request make your request known to God with thanksgiving. The translation that we hear at Mass today is, “I want to be happy, always happy in the Lord. I repeat what I want is our happiness.”

This Third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, because these verses from Philippians are the entrance Antiphon at Mass. The Latin is ,

“Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.”

The celebrant wears rose coloured vestments and the third candle of the Advent wreath is often pink in colour. Here is the challenge for us, we are called to lives of Joy.

A book I often turn to is entitled “The Joy of God”. It contains the collected writings of Sister Mary David, a Benedictine nun at St Cecilia’s Abbey on the Isle of Wight. She was born in Philadelphia, of Palestinian parents, and graduated in English literature.

She came to study at Oxford and entered the Monastery in 1985. She served as novice mistress and then as prioress. She died of cancer in August 2017. At the beginning of the chapter “Called to Joy” she quotes Dom Delatte,

“It is the duty of each one of us to be joyful. It is a remarkable religion in which joy is a precept, in which the command is to be happy, in which cheerfulness is a duty.”

Our joy comes from surrendering ourselves to God’s will, of being and doing at every moment what he desires us to be and to do.

In the Gospel today the tax collectors and the soldiers asked John the Baptist what they should do to change. To the tax collectors he said, “Exact no more than your rate.” To the soldiers he said, “No intimidation, no extortion, be content with your pay.”

John was encouraging them to to surrender themselves to God’s will. As Sister Mary David says,

“This liberation from slavery to self-will is a real source of supernatural joy. We find ourselves truly free to be the people God has called us to be, and in this lies perfect fulfilment, perfect joy.”

Our lives may be full of difficulties and trials, but we need not see these as an obstacle to joy. At all times we are called to love one another. Joy is much deeper than a feeling. It is something we do. “It is something to be chosen, a choice God calls us to. In calling us to himself, God calls us to joy, for he is our joy.”

This then is the promise, the invitation : Say yes to God, to embrace the way of Christ and thus experience deep joy always.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest