Gaudete Sunday ..mid Advent Sunday..gaudete “rejoice”.. we are almost ready to give birth to the Christ child are we not? how is your consciousness of his growing & glowing, his real presence within you? how often so far today have you felt him kicking inside you? ..not with judgemental criticism but with eager expectancy & profound love..loving intimacy.. ..the erotic love Pope Benedict spoke of remember?..as we sniffily then thought it a misprint or a mistranslation..are we blessed or are we blessed? & suddenly you & I have every reason to rejoice & be thankful for in this time & moment in life & faith Dec 2018..
“..the Lord has repealed your sentence..” .. guilty? yes..forgiven? absolutely ; Lord have mercy “..he has driven your enemies away..” ..until you repeal their sentence & call them home.. ; Christ have mercy “..he will dance with shouts of joy for you..” .. for you his beloved firstborn.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..a wonderful Advent moment last Sun after Mass..outside greeting folk when one of our youngest came out as usual..his face fell he looked totally lost disorientated..”where are the sweeties?” he pined..told him gently it was Advent & we do without them to build an emptiness in our tummy ready for Christmas..the theology seemed to pass over his head until I said “there are warm mince pies in the Hall this morning” & he rocketed up path with Advent rejoicing..his Gaudete came a week early!..last Sunday Isaiahs proclamation announced mountains/hills being laid low,valleys filled in..mountains refer to arrogance of high/ powerful, the valleys those obstacle courses & potholes that debt & purity codes put in place..our Monastic Community were thought until recently to be rather arrogant & aloof, but no longer, as we are cut down in size & into authenticity..our Catholic obstacle courses & purity codes now filled in with explanation realism love & understanding; no more chill compliance now warm mince pies..a new exodus with John the Baptist, builder of the superhighway..moralistic & harsh he might be, but he emphasised real social evils & not just internal community offences..he represented a breakout from temple controlled religion..no longer continuing conformity but radicalisation..radice..” to change from the root”..& have you noticed most Christmas trees on sale have no root?..all stem branch & tinsel..”what must we do?”..notice in gospel 3 groups put to John big question..big issue.. ”all” the people; tax collectors & soldiers..conspicuous by their absence are the compliant temple worshippers; John keeps well clear of them & they of him..last Sat Feast of Our Ladys Immaculate Conception; 19 martyrs were beatified in Oran in Algeria; killed 1994-1996 during civil war between govt & Islamist groups; 7 Trappist monks 4 White Fathers 6 Sisters 1 Marist & a Dominican bishop; “what must we do?” all shared a love of Christ & desire to serve Muslim people of Algeria; a Trappist Fr Christian de Cherge, attempted to assert right to difference, to stand alongside those Algerians who resisted oppressive uniformity which Islamists sought to impose..he knew his life under threat; wrote home to his family each month & with one letter enclosed an extra envelope..he asked family to keep it safe & only open it in event of his death..imagine their thoughts/ fears..6 wks later murdered by an Islamist extremist..family opened envelope 3 pages love & intimacy ; it finished with paragraph written to his would-be murderer “& you my last minute friend, who would not have known what you were doing. I commend you to God, the father of us both, & may we meet again, happy good thieves in paradise.” “what must we do?”..St Bedes/St Josephs Cath College Bradford 60% RC 40% Muslim..Yr 11gp on retreat 3yrs ago 35 lads; real lads..maybe 12 Muslims chose to come..invited me to Bradford for end of year Mass; 200 Yr 11 boys/girls perhaps 80 Muslims..I told them story of Trappist monk..”what must we do?” they are now out there in wilderness of Bradford, John the Baptists, sharing my story of inter faith dialogue & radicalisation..faith RC & Muslim present in places of suffering & dereliction , on front line, a fault line..Bradford & even Ampleforth?..”what must we do?”..& now”what must I do?”  listen openheartedly for the morse code.. share the secret of the real Advent..”I feel I have known you all my life” & now  make last minute friend of one who has character assassinated you for a lifetime “who would not have known what they were doing” please commend them to God, the father of you both, as you look forward to meeting them again “happy good thieves in paradise” & sooner at the manger in 2 wks time..”what must I do?”..now you know, now you know secret of Advent, step out from the self pity of absence of a usual sweetie in your usual Advent, & having translated the morse code, run as fast as you can towards the mince pie & the manger..do it & rejoice in doing it..each Sun after Midday Prayer in Abbey, I go to Leeds to see my sister; we have a walk, she makes me my tea & I’m back for Compline..currently we’re on a traditional Advent pursuit; mince pie tasting ..she buys different ones each wk..& what she wants for me, Christ wants for us..the best ..”what I want is your happiness”..enjoy your Gaudete.. [3rdAdventYrC;Lk3;10-18]