Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gaudete Sunday and a CABG (Cabbage)

The homily is a bit late to arrive for Sunday.  However, I spent Sunday awaiting discharge from the Washington Hospital Center where I’d undergone quadruple cardiac bypass surgery on Wednesday.  In medical shorthand coronary artery bypass graft is indicated by the acronym CABG with x4, for example, indicating the number of grafts.  It was a surprise only to those I didn’t tell about the symptoms I’d been experiencing for quite a while.  I’ve been practicing medicine much too long not to recognize angina pectoris.  It was, however, quite stable, and I’d treated patients with it for many years.  However, I realized I couldn’t wait any longer.

The experience was as positive as any I’ve ever had.  Pain has been minimal.  No other associated symptoms.  I was up and walking two days after surgery.  Had my blood pressure not remained very low I would have been out of ICU a day earlier than I actually got out.  I cannot thank the staff at WHC for excellent care. 

I will be remaining here in Georgetown for several months to recover before moving to Boston.  At the moment my energy levels are non-existent.  Eat breakfast.  Nap.  Say morning office.  Nap.  Walk halls for 15 minutes.  Nap.  You get the picture. 

Only one photo today.  It was taken by Yang Ke-jia of our community office staff.  It features Jake the Jebbybear, who helps keep my chest together every time I cough; an experience only a bit more pleasant than sneezing.  Perhaps in a few days I’ll have  more energy to sit at the desk and find a few.   

Homily below.   Obviously this one was not written this weekend.  But it says something important about a vastly underappreciated celebration of Advent, leading up to a Great Holy Day not a holiday.

3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)
11 December 2011
Is 61:1-2, 10-11
Lk 1:46
1Thes 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

Gaudete in Domino semper,
iterum dice gaudete. 
Dominus enim prope est.

“Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I say rejoice! 
The Lord is near.” 

Gaudete.  The first word of the entrance antiphon means “Rejoice.”  It gives the 3rd Sunday of Advent its traditional name: Gaudete Sunday. 

Gaudete is one of the two Sundays on which priests have the option of wearing either the purple vestments of Advent or vestments of dusty rose—NOT absolutely NOTTTTT pink—to demonstrate the beginning of joy, to visually suggest a lessening of advent’s penitential somberness.  Advent is now more than half over.

We begin to rejoice because in the words of the antiphon: 
Dominus enim prope est:
“The Lord is near.”  Very near. 

Only one more Sunday stands between us and the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord;  the feast on which we celebrate that Jesus was born into this world.  The same world in which we now live and breathe.  The same world in which we study and work, rejoice and mourn. 

We celebrate because Jesus walked on this same planet; fully divine and fully human, like us in all things but sin.  We rejoice because through his incarnation, birth, life, passion, death and resurrection he brought us the forgiveness of sins, he opened the gate to life everlasting.  The readings highlight the sense of rejoicing.

From the first:
“I rejoice heartily in the Lord,
in my God is the joy of my soul
for he has clothed me with the robe of salvation”

From the responsorial which is not a psalm but from Luke’s Gospel

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has looked with favor on his lowly servant
The Lord has clothed me with the robe of salvation.
He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.”

We have been favored; we have been blessed by Christ coming into the world to redeem us from our sins. 

The only possible response to such blessing is to heed Paul’s advice in his Letter to the Thessalonians

“Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks.”

Our rejoicing will increase  gradually over the coming days
until the Gloria in Excelsis Deo  of Christmas explodes throughout the universe.

On Saturday evening the Church’s anticipatory joy will begin another phase as priests, religious, and legions of lay people who daily pray the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours or the Breviary, chant or recite the first of the 7 ancient “O Antiphons” that introduce and end The Magnificat,  Mary’s exquisite prayer of praise and thanksgiving.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant
From this day all generations will call me blessed.

The antiphons are called the “O” antiphons because each one begins with the word “O.”  Each of the antiphons highlights a title for the Messiah and refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah. 

On Friday, 17 December, we will sing or recite

“O Wisdom,
O holy Work of God. 
You govern all creation with strong yet tender care. 
Come and show your people the way to salvation.”  

On Monday, 19 December, the antiphon is:

“O flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you. 
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid”

Finally, on December 23 we will chant or recite:

“O Emmanuel,
king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
come and set us free,
Lord our God.”

The Messiah was foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament.  He was also announced before he began his public ministry by John the Baptist, the bridge between the Old and New Testaments. 

John was Jesus’ kinsman who described himself as unworthy to untie the sandal of the One of whom he spoke.  He was the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord;”

He was the one who had to decrease as Jesus increased. 

The time of waiting is coming to an end.  Very soon, purple vestments will be replaced by white. Veni Veni Emmanuel will be replaced by Adeste Fideles.   Expectant waiting will be replaced by unfettered joy.

Gaudete in Domino semper,
 iterum dice gaudete. 
Dominus enim prope est.

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