Third Sunday of Advent 2012
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
In these, or similar words from the Entrance Chant and the second Scripture reading today from the Letter to the Philippians, the Church cries out with joy in the house of God. There are few Sundays in the Church year so charged with gladness as today. What is the reason for so much joy in the midst of this preparation for Christmas? The good news: "the Lord is near."
The Lord is close to us through grace, which is His presence flowing from the sacraments. Paul tells us in Philippians what a Christian must be, how one must act, and the spirit that should animate the heart. The life of grace in our souls shows itself by hearing good fruit in our lives, especially the four fruits of "goodness, trust in God, prayer and peace". Christ is present invisibly among us, in the hidden form of sanctifying grace. This too is the joyful message of the Gospel: Christ is in our midst through grace.
Grace makes us a child of God. Only a person of grace can approach God as a loving Father. Prayer is the key to God's heart. Every prayer is answered even though what we ask for is given to us in another form. Through prayer in time of trial we find comfort and strength, no matter the external outcome. Grace is the divine life within us that enables us to be at peace with ourselves, with God, and with our neighbor. Peace is a special fruit on the tree of grace. It is Christ's peace that enables us to be satisfied with our lot in life. Peace and joy go together. Grace is the solid foundation for true Christian joy. A person living in God's grace is content and happy knowing that he or she is loved and cared for by God.