Dear OLPH Family and Friends,

This Sunday is traditionally called “Gaudete” Sunday which in Latin is “Rejoice” Sunday.   It comes from the opening prayer of the Mass.  Many will translate that into the fact that the time of penance and preparation is almost over.   However!   We would like to make it a time to rejoice that the Lord and His promises are about to be fulfilled.

The Gospel tells of a question which John the Baptist, who is in prison, put to the Lord through his disciples, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to look for someone else?” John himself was in no doubt about the matter.   Even from his mother’s womb he had recognized Jesus, and at the Jordan he had borne his testimony, but he sent his disciples for two reasons.  He wanted to instruct his disciples.  He knew that his own death was imminent and, like the good leader and teacher that he was, he made provision for his disciples.  He wanted to make sure they would have a good teacher and protector.

John’s second and primary motive, however, was to draw attention to Christ.  He knew that he had been sent to bear witness to Christ, and although he had given his testimony at the Jordan, few had accepted it.  Knowing now that his death was near, he devised a plan to put the question to Jesus publicly and thus bring him into the limelight.  In answering the question publicly, Jesus would at the same time bear witness about Himself, and thereby reveal Himself to the people.

The disciples, in front of the crowd, asked the same questions of Jesus that had been presented to John. Jesus indirectly said who He was by quoting Isiah.  In those words of healing Jesus knew that John would have His answer.   Jesus followed up by say that there was no greater man than John.   Jesus made that statement for two reasons.   The first reason is John’s personal holiness.  John’s whole life was one of selflessness and self-sacrifice.  The second reason is the role John played in the history of our salvation.  John was more than just an outstanding prophet.  He was God’s own personal messenger, sent to prepare the world for the coming of Jesus.

After declaring john to be the greatest man who ever lived, Jesus surprises us.  In fact, He shocks us, saying “Yet the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.”  Jesus is saying the greatest sinner among us is greater than John; the least important member of God’s kingdom is greater than the greatest man in history.  Accepting Jesus makes us members of God’s Kingdom; we take on a value that ranks us above the most important person who ever lived.

By our acceptance of Jesus, we are united with Him, become one with Him, and become members of His mystical body, the Church, the Kingdom of God on earth.  Consequently, we are joined so intimately with Jesus that we can truly address God as “Our Father.”

This week there are two Reconciliation Services in this area and then our two on the 20th.  That will be it until after Christmas!  In case there is any doubt ALL ARE INVITED to the celebration of  95 years of Priesthood on December 20th.  Fr. Joe and I are thrilled to be able to share the joy with you.   The Mass will be at 6 pm with a reception in the Social Center afterwards.

May God bless and keep you!  MARANATHA! COME LORD JESUS!

Fr. Ron