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Sunday, December 13, 2015

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Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-18
Philippians 4:4-7
Isaiah 12:2-6
Luke 3:10-18

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catalytic converters

"Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!" —Philippians 4:4

Paul made one of the greatest proclamations in history when he commanded the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!" On Paul's initial mission to the Philippians, he and Silas were beaten, stripped, scourged, thrown in jail, and had their feet tied to a stake (Acts 16:22-24). Under these terrible conditions, Paul and Silas decided to rejoice and sing praises to the Lord (Acts 16:25). This joyful praise was catalytic. It was followed by an earthquake, which resulted in freedom from chains and prison (Acts 16:26). Next, the jailer and his family were converted to Christ (Acts 16:33). At Philippi, Paul personally experienced the power of praise and joy. So he knew what he was talking about when he commanded: "Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice!"

Paul came to realize that he had joy not in spite of sufferings but rather by means of sufferings. Sufferings are not incompatible with joy; instead, they are even necessary to rejoice always. Paul proclaimed: "Even now I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you" (Col 1:24). We rejoice in the measure that we share Christ's sufferings (1 Pt 4:13). Therefore, it is impossible to rejoice in the Lord always unless we suffer with Christ.

Joy is catalytic. It sets off a chain-reaction of miracles leading to salvation. Redemptive suffering is a catalyst of catalysts. It leads to joy.

Prayer:  Father, on this Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, reveal to me the mysteries of joy.

Promise:  "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel!" —Zep 3:14

Praise:  Praise You, Jesus, Emmanuel, "God-with-us" (see Mt 1:23). Alleluia!

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 2015

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