Rejoicing When Life Is Hard


3rd Sunday Of Advent

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: Dec. 11, 2022

Life is hard.  The more we listen to people and pay attention to people, the more we see the hardships that we have to face as human beings at various times of our life.

Last week I was at Brebeuf High School for Confessions and as I listened to some of the young people, I heard some of the hard things they face in their life.  One student spoke about how his parents separated in the past year and how hard it is at home.  Another student was from Ukraine.  She had come to Canada in the past few months with her mother and sister.  I can only imagine what she has faced and I did not even ask about her father.  In fact, a whole country of people are facing such a hard situation.

I also had a visit to the hospital where I saw a young man who is faced with really difficult health conditions.  How hard for him and his parents.  Also, I visited an elderly parishioner who is struggling with health limitations and wondering if he will be able to return to his home.

If we went through this church today, there would be many of you who could share hardships that you are facing in life right now.

This Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday.  Gaudete means to “rejoice.”  The rose candle on the wreath highlights this sense of joy, of rejoicing in our salvation.  But for many people it is a difficult time to rejoice, to be joyful.  Christmas itself, which we think of as a  time of joy and peace, is often a time of sadness, grief and hardship for those who are missing loved ones, who are feeling alone, who are not at peace in some of their relationships.  There are many among us who do not feel like rejoicing.

The prophet Isaiah says, “the dry land shall be glad,…, the desert shall rejoice”, “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear!’

In the second reading from James we are told, “Be patient,…,Strengthen your hearts.

When the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus if he is the one to come, Jesus tells them.  “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.”

This is the mission of the church.  It is our mission as disciples of Jesus.  We are to bring healing into our world, to bring forgiveness, to be instruments of peace, to bring good news to the poor.  We are to be with others who are struggling with hardship so that they do not give up, do not give into fear.  Each of us should look around us, in our families, in our community, in our parish.  Who is struggling?  Who needs encouragement and support?  Who needs someone to care for them, to listen to them?

Life can be hard.  Though we may not be feeling joyful in this moment, we are called to go out to others to bring Jesus, to bring good news, to give them hope in their struggles.  When we walk together in this life, when we walk together in the hardships, then we can stand up and continue rejoicing even when life is hard.

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