Third Sunday of Advent (B)

“You say you are a Christian. Then where the devil is your joy?” – Georges Bernanos


On this, the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday), the liturgy we celebrate returns again and again to this theme of joy. Witness the Opening Prayer at Mass: “Enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation, and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.” Witness the first reading: “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul”. Witness Paul, in the second reading: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks.” Joy. Rejoice. The message seems clear. Continue reading “Joy”

Comfort To My People

Second Sunday of Advent (B)

“Comfort, give comfort to my people”, says your God. – Isaiah 40:1

You are seven years old, riding your bike on a  warm summer’s day. Your front tire hits a patch of sand and loses traction. You fall, skinning your right elbow and knee. The new wounds sting, but the sensation of falling is more frightening to you than the wounds. You seek your mother. If she’s available, you go to her immediately. If not, you tell her as soon as possible. She may give you some unsolicited advice about being careful on your bike – advice that is painfully obvious to you now. Chances are that she will also clean your scrapes, put ointment and bandages on them, give you a hug or a kiss, and reassure you that all is well. You may head out again, your scrapes still stinging. But you are no longer overwhelmed. Your mother consoled you and told you that it will be okay – and you believe her. You may even show off your new scars to your friends, as though you were a Purple Heart soldier with battle scars. Your mother’s comfort has made all the difference. Continue reading “Comfort To My People”

Rending the Heavens

First Sunday of Advent (B)

“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down with the mountains quaking before you… while you worked awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as had not been heard of from of old.” – from Isaiah 64:19-65:3

Batman. Superman. Spiderman. Wonder Woman. Thor. The Hulk. Many of you can add more such characters to my list. One of the fascinating  phenomena in American popular culture in the last century is the rise of the superhero. Someone who can combat evil with unusual powers or abilities. These characters first appeared in comic books, but they would soon make their way to TV and eventually movie stardom. Even now, successful movies continue to be made featuring them.   Continue reading “Rending the Heavens”

The Pain of Advent

This is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – or so Andy Williams would have us believe. Indeed, the air around us as we shop is filled with varied songs that say – more or less – the same thing, as they beckon us to open our hearts (and our credit cards) to the season. We are urged not to be like old Scrooge before he met those spirits of Christmas, but to be generous and give.

Not every one of us is in a position to give – or to give as much as we would like. For too many of us, the old Merle Haggard song “If We Make It Through December” comes far closer to our own reality. We’d like to be incredibly generous to all those we love in every way we can. But we can’t always be that generous financially. We begin to feel inadequate. This is one of the unintended pains of Advent.

But there are more.  Continue reading “The Pain of Advent”

Are We There Yet?

Advent’s Goal

Having already posted some thoughts on this Sunday’s readings, I hadn’t planned on writing a post today. Two things have conspired to change that plan. One, it is now snowing and is still rather cold out there. Two, I came across an idea in Bishop Robert Barron’s podcast homily for tomorrow that I’d like to play with a bit here today. As an aside, if you aren’t familiar with Bishop Barron and his work, do yourself a favor and go to You’ll find free podcasts, videos, as well as resources you can order (books and DVDs) that are all very helpful in exploring the Catholic faith and its implications in our time.   Continue reading “Are We There Yet?”