“Let us Rejoice, Let us Be Glad, Let us Praise God who holds our Life in His Hands.”
Let our Souls Magnify the Lord, Let us rejoice for the Lord is near. This week we find ourselves called, ordered to “REJOICE”. We hear a message from the Prophet Zephaniah just prior to the Babylonian Captivity, although Israel is getting ready to go through some rough times, there will be cause for rejoicing.
“Shout for joy, daughter Zion!
sing joyfully, Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
I’d like to encourage you this “Rejoice” Sunday. That in the midst of discouragement and wondering how you are going to make it. No matter what seems to fall your way, never loose hope, never fall under the weight of discouragement God wants you to stand and “Rejoice!” because He our God has not forgotten us but comes to save us. One might get overwhelmed by negativity. The People of Israel under a good and just king Josiah were being called back to God, called to turn away from falsehood to the truth of God’s great love for His people.
The word of the Prophet Zephaniah just prior to the Fall of Jerusalem is encouraging to us, the way God works is although disaster might seemingly be looking you in the face, blessing is on it’s way. Here at Saint Joseph we have seen a great response to our out reach ministry. More and more families from our wonderful neighborhood of Casler Heights have been coming to St. Joseph, both our monthly food for Families program, Thanksgiving program have expanded so greatly. St. Joseph Church is seen by the community as a church that truly cares about the people. From regular presence in the neighborhood to providing for the underserved St. Joseph is stepping up. New parishioners coming in with great ideas. Most recently our ministry fair saw parishioners sign up to step up and serve. When one more person says Yes, I’ll serve, I’ll give it’s cause for rejoices. This weekend the Senior Dinner for Christmas, to our Columbiettes caring for abused women. This is all cause for joy. We have been blessed with many wonderful and grace filled parishioners who continue to make a difference in our Church and our world. Generous gifts have been coming to us and they are a wonderful act of stewardship, helping us spread the good news of Jesus Christ and build the kingdom of God right here in the Diocese of St. Petersburg at St. Joseph.
At the same time that so much is happening to touch the neighborhood’s lives, and serve those on the peripheries, others have chosen to move on to other parishes where they can feel more “comfortable”. The more our parish reflects the neighborhood around us, and is inviting to them, some choose to walk away. Although a disappointment I am not discouraged. A beautiful wonderful lady told me that she was leaving our parish to go to a neighboring parish, just as she left out the door behind her came someone to make a $25,000 pledge in support of our mission to those on the peripheries. I share this very personal but concrete example of how God works, as long as we remain faithful to the mission of seeing Him in the face of the poor, those most in need, God will provide for our needs.
As Pastor of Saint Joseph I magnify the Lord this Third Sunday of Advent because God is faithful, even when we are not faithful, even when people choose to walk away from us for being who we are, God always remains. God is faithful to Himself in caring for us as a people. I take the word’s of the prophet Zephaniah and invite you to as well.
“The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior, Who will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
Who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days.
I will remove disaster from among you,
so that no one may recount your disgrace.”
We here from the Social Justice Gospel this year. In Luke’s Gospel St. John the Baptist gives a word, even the Gospel says this is what we must do. If you have an extra tunic share with the person who has none. Treat others with respect and act justly in your regard towards them. Justice Ministry and Service requires that we see the God in each one we meet, and all those we serve. From the one who walks away, we pray Christ’s peace upon them, from the one who says we will support and love this Mission here at St Joseph we welcome and are grateful to God for their giving. You see this Advent God speaks to our hearts and this week we respond by Magnifying His name with Mary and Rejoicing in God’s faithfulness as with the Israelite people.
“Let us Rejoice, Let us Be Glad, Let us Praise God who Holds our life in His hands.”