The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
Take a moment at Mass to look around t0 see all the regular attendees. Some are older; they walk feebly on weakened legs, often with bad knees; they use canes or walkers; they might be hard of hearing.
Others are middle-aged, but they may need glasses to see the altar clearly, or bifocals to read the hymnal. They move about well, but might be a little stiff at the genuflections.
Then there are the children, too young to understand completely; teenagers who might fidget or have their attention focused on their phones; babies who get fussy and need diapers changed.
Now imagine what would happen if, suddenly, all these weaknesses and distractions were gone. The elderly would stand up straight and stride quickly up to Communion. They would sing robustly and completely in tune. The children would join them on every word, with the avid attention that only children can give. The enthusiasm of teenagers would add its own flavor. The blind would read the overhead projections and the deaf would dance to the music.
Today is Gaudete Sunday or “Rejoice Sunday.” We have passed the midpoint of Advent. Now the readings remind us that we are about to rejoice in the Lord’s coming. We hear the promise made to us from long ago that even the land itself will exult and “rejoice in joyful song.”
Imagine the rejoicing that would fill your church if everyone there were made strong this very Sunday. Talk about a “joyful noise!”
Yet that is exactly what we believe will happen — maybe not this Sunday, but soon. It is part of what we celebrate in this Advent season of anticipation. The Lord is coming — not just the Christ Child of Christmas, but the Lord of all time and places who will come again. He will be our “sun of justice,” rising up with “healing rays,” and his kingdom will never end.
Until that time, we are asked to be patient, enduring “the early and the late rains,” while we live like John the Baptist. That doesn’t mean we should eat honey and go live in the desert. Rather, it means we must be willing to do our part to prepare the way and spread the news about the one who is coming, the one who will give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, the deaf hear and even raise the dead.
Kasten is an associate editor of The Compass and the author of multiple books.