We reach the midpoint of Advent. We light the Rose Candle calling this day, Gaudete Sunday. For we rejoice at the command of Saint Paul as we celebrate with awe and wonder how God, the Rose of Winter, was incarnate of the Virgin in the cave of Bethlehem.
Christ is coming and we must rejoice. He comes in history, mystery, majesty.
Rejoice for Christ came to us in history. The Word that effortlessly created the cosmos, the galaxies and stars, is the Word who came to dwell with us during the reign of Octavian Augustus and the prosperity of the Pax Romanum. He came in a very particular time, to a particular people, born of a teenage girl, born into poverty.
At the same time, Jesus comes to our personal history. He knows us, he knows the fear of facing cancer, sickness, and disease. He knows the difficulty of growing old and living alone. He knows our financial struggles, our broken dreams, our messy family history, our deepest hopes.
Rejoice for Christ comes to us in mystery. He makes a home in us through the waters of baptism. The Lord Jesus bombards our lives through the very mystery of the sacraments, he gently knocks at our hearts through the life of the Church that constantly echos an ancient truth ever new.
Keeping this in mind, Jesus comes to us in personal mystery. Not as something to be solved, but as the gift of awe and wonder of what God can do. He brings people into our lives to foster friendships and familial bonds. He invites us into the mystery of restoring broken relationships, into the mystery of calling us to love our enemies. He calls us into the mystery of forgiveness.
Rejoice for Christ comes to us in majesty. Within the walls of Vatican City, you will find at the end of the world’s largest museum, Michelangelo’s fresco of The Last Judgement. This masterpiece is the foreshadowing of everything Zephaniah prophesied in his oracle in which the Day of the Lord will come and the New Jerusalem will find a remnant, a people humble and lowly (cf. Zephaniah 3:12). When Christ comes in his majesty, we will be judged on love alone.
Remember, the majestic Lord has chosen us for himself and has become the pivotal way to eternal life. In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Pope of Rome has exhorted that all bishops throughout the globe open Holy Doors in their dioceses beginning today. The Holy Doors at the Cathedral in Sacramento open in ritual and ceremony at 5pm this afternoon. These doors are metaphor for pilgrims. Eternal life is only made possible through Jesus and He is the door which all pilgrims must pass through. So let us be pilgrims journeying to the majestic Christ, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation and making pilgrimage to these holy sites.
Last night, I visited my grandmother at the hospital in San Francisco. She had a stroke and I found out on Friday that the whole left side of her body is now paralyzed. As she saw me enter the room she wept. She grabbed my hand as I knelt at her bedside and cried with her. This is the woman who made me practice piano for hours and fostered me as a musician. This is the woman who instilled in me a deep love for the faith. This is the woman who gave me so much and yet in her most vulnerable moment in her life, she still taught me a great lesson. She looked into my teary eyes and said with boldness, “Hijo, I know my God will not leave me.” I was not only kneeling before my grandmother, but before a Christian pilgrim who lived her life rehearsing for the moment in which she meets Christ in history, mystery, majesty! Dare we live, allowing God to foster such a faith in us.
Rejoice, O Israel! Cry out with joy and gladness, for in the midst of our messy, broken, and darken lives is Jesus, the Rose of Winter. He desires to dwell with us.