Saturday, December 10, 2016

3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

Is 35:1-6a, 10
Ps 146: 6-7,8-9,9-10
Jas 5:7-10
Mt 11:2-11

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

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

The first word of the entrance antiphon for this 3rd Sunday of Advent is the Latin word for rejoice. It gives this Sunday its traditional name:  Gaudete Sunday. We are told to rejoice because the Lord is near.  We rejoice because our time of yearning is coming to an end.  Gaudete is one of two Sundays in the liturgical year on which priests have the option of wearing either purple vestments or vestments of dusty rose—NOT hot pink—to visually signify that joy.  Advent is more than half over. 

 Only one more Sunday remains before the great feast of the Nativity of the Lord two weeks from today.  Only two weeks until we celebrate that Jesus, fully divine and fully human, was born into this world.  Only two weeks until we celebrate that Jesus walked on this planet where we now walk.  The planet on which like us, Jesus was drenched by earth's rain and seared by its heat.  Like us Jesus was cooled by the breeze and nourished by the earth's food.  Jesus was like us . . . in all things but sin.

We hear the joy of Gaudete Sunday in the first reading,         

“The desert will exult,
Flowers will bloom on the steppes,"

Several verses from that reading were incorporated into one of the most famous and frequently performed musical works in English: Handel's Messiah.  If you attend a performance, or listen to a recording, of Handel's masterpiece, you will hear these lines from the first reading sung by a soprano

“Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart,
and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.”

This short recitative is followed by the famous aria “He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd”  one of the most exquisite and moving arias in the oratorio.  On this  Gaudete Sunday we celebrate that our redemption is near at hand.  We celebrate that the shepherd is coming to care for the flock.

As in the first reading the psalm assured us that,
“The Lord God keeps faith forever 
secures justice for the oppressed.
The Lord gives sight to the blind; 
and raises up those who were bowed down."

On Saturday evening December 17 the Church’s joy will increase as she celebrates that the great Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, is very near.  Priests, monks, nuns, and legions of lay people who pray the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours daily, will chant or recite the first of the seven great “O Antiphons.”  The O antiphons introduce and close Mary’s exquisite prayer at the Annunciationin in response to the news that she was to be the mother of Jesus

“Magnificat anima mea Dominum, et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo”

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

They are called the “O Antiphons” because each one begins with the word “O.”  Thus, on Saturday we will say or chant: 

“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.”  

How will we recognize the way to salvation?  In the same way that Jesus instructs his listeners in the Gospel.  “Go, and tell John what you see and hear.”  The blind regain their sight. The lame walk.  Lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised.  And the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. Like the farmer in The Letter of James we must be patient, we must await the coming in glory of the precious fruit of Mary’s womb.  “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb . . . . the one whom we await, Jesus, Son of the Father, Son of David, and Son of Mary.

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

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

Looked out the window early Thursday evening to see the fog descending.  Fog is a photographer's friend.  It adds a dimension to photos that cannot be created in post-processing or via filters.  Grabbed camera and headed out blissfully unaware that the temperature was descending as fast as the fog.  It was cold.  Very cold.  But it was worth a few temporarily numb fingers.

Black and white photography was meant for fog.  This is along the river not far from the house.  I am heading into the center.  

This is the well-known Dragon Bridge as it has dragon heads at each end.  This does not work as well in color because the upper half is a very warm yellow while the light under the bridge is very blue.  

People walking on the Butcher's Bridge.  The fog gives the hint of mystery.
Standing on the steps of the Franciscan Church looking down into the plaza.  There is a band down there.  I began to laugh when I heard the strains of the Beer Barrel Polka.  Mom would have been delighted.

The lights and tree in front of the Franciscan Church.

I don't normally approach the square through this street.  This was gift.  The plaza is illuminated by some blue spotlights.  The diffusion in the fog creates this contrast.

Shoppers at one of the stands in the Christmas Market.

Another of the Christmas Market shoppers  At this point the temperature was 27 Fahrenheit.  Damnably cold as my fingers were willing to attest by the time I took this one.  Slovenians are a hardy group of people,

The interplay of light and shadow here suggests something Norman Rockwell might have painted.

Sitting at an outdoor cafe, having a smoke, with blankets over the lap.  

Barbarella's looked warm and inviting.  Underline warm.

A simple still life of an ashtray and an intricate votive light.  A bunch of these would look great on a mantlepiece or intimate dinner table. 

+Fr. Jack, Sj, MD

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