Sunday, December 13, 2015

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

"Gaudete" Sunday – the third Sunday of Advent, is so called because the first word of the opening prayer of the Mass in Latin is "Gaudete" or Rejoice!

When Advent clearly had a penitential spirit including even fasting (like a little Lent), this Sunday, halfway through the season, provided a little break from it all.

Purple vestments and little or no flowers was the norm during Advent. On this Sunday it was permitted to have flowers, more song and rose-colored vestments were worn to signify that the end was in sight – the Lord is very near!

In the first reading from Zephaniah, words like "joy" and "exult" appear six times in only five verses. The tone, and the reason for it, is clear. Twice we are told: "The Lord is in your midst."

Could there be a better reason to be joyful? Then in the Gospel of Luke just before Jesus comes on the scene at the time of his baptism (his entrance into his public ministry), John the Baptist urges everyone to "prepare the way of the Lord."

When the people ask him, "What should we do?" he gives them multiple examples of what God's word is always asking of us.
Do justice! Do it! It is just that someone who has two cloaks should give one over to someone who has none. It is just that one would give food to someone who has none. To tax collectors, it is just that you DO NOT collect more taxes than what is prescribed by law. It is just that you: "do not practice extortion"; "do not falsely accuse anyone"; "be satisfied with your wages" and, I will add, "give fair wages to all" – wages upon which a person can actually make a living.

Do justice! Make justice! Live justice! Stand for justice! Do not accept injustice!

Justice in the scriptures is not equality – everyone having the same. It is, rather, everyone having enough. No one goes without. No one is abandoned. The goods of the world belong to all. They are signs of God’s goodness to us. Just people see to it that everyone has a just share.

When justice is done, the words of St. Paul in the second reading today are realized: "Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112, or email pleiker@stbernard-church.com.

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