“Rejoice in the Lord Always. I shall say it again: rejoice!”

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Advent by FAN board member, David Seitz, OFS

This reflection was originally posted in our December 10th newsletter


jesuscollageoffacesDuring this Advent season, we rejoice and prepare for the coming of the long-awaited Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. The readings for the third Sunday of Advent remind us to rejoice always in the Lord. The call to rejoice from the second reading, Phil 4:4-7 was a favorite of one of the founding members of FAN, Deacon Tom Bello, OFS. I was fortunate enough to get to know Tom and he always opened his remarks to his brothers and sisters with this passage from Philippians, “Rejoice, I say again rejoice in the Lord!” I can hear his voice ringing in my ears whenever I read this passage. The reading continues, “Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.”

The first reading from Zephaniah proclaims “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior.” The Gospel reading from Luke chapter 3 recalls John the Baptist preparing the way of the Lord and we are told that “Now the people were filled with expectation”.

Who is this Lord in our midst? Who is it that should cause us to rejoice? Article 13 of the rule of life professed by Secular Franciscan sheds some light on how St. Francis would answer these questions. “As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the first-born of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.” All people are a gift and an image of Christ. All people. The immigrant. The migrant worker. The person exploited by human trafficking. The falsely accused. The persecuted. The LGBT community. The republican. The democrat. The soldier. The peacemaker. The protester. The person who disagrees with me. The corporate executive. The homeless person. The sick. The orphan. The Muslim. The Hindu. The Buddhist. The Atheist. The Pharisee. The Saint. The Sinner.

You get the picture. St. Francis was so taken by the fact that the God of the universe, the creator of all, humbled himself to join his nature with ours. The incarnation of Jesus blew his mind and is the foundation of his spirituality. When Francis kissed the leper, he embraced the lowest member and the most outcast of his community. Sisters and brothers, we are called to do the same. Who are the lepers we need to kiss?

The crowds asked John the Baptist, What should we do?” John exhorted them to care for the poor and to be honest and treat people with dignity. We know how the story of John the Baptist ends. He was a voice, a conscience of the times calling the leaders of Israel to conversion. His message reached the ears of kings and the leaders of the people. His voice called them to act with justice. His voice resonated with truth and he paid for his message with his life. He was all in.

Are we called to anything less? Some are surprised to know that St. Francis also preached the Gospel to public leaders. It is very Franciscan to bring the Gospel message to the public square. Francis wrote a letter, “To the Rulers of the Peoples” where he exhorts them “I beg you, therefore, with all possible respect, not to forget the Lord or turn away from his commandments by reason of the cares and preoccupations of this world…And you should manifest such honor to the Lord among the people entrusted to you.” (Francis and Clare, the Complete Works, Paulist Press, 1982)

What are we to do? Rejoice in the Lord, the Lord who is manifest and present among you in every person. Support the activity of the Franciscan Action Network and get involved in taking the Gospel to the rulers of the peoples. St. Francis wrote to the leaders of his time. John the Baptist brought the message of salvation to the rulers and kings of his time. Jesus brought his message to King Herod and Pontius Pilate. When is the last time you wrote a letter to the ruler of your people?

May the Lord grant you peace during this joyful Advent Season.

David Seitz, OFS

FAN Board Member

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Published in: on December 11, 2018 at 8:56 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Wonderful, thought provoking article, Thanks for sharing your Gift this Advent Season.


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