Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday of Advent) - Gaudete is the name derived from the “entrance antiphon” of today’s Mass: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice… for indeed the Lord is near.” Gaudete, or Joy - is the central message of our readings and prayers today. But Also, in these readings…we shift our Advent reflection from "the Lord is coming" to "the Lord is near." There is a greater sense of urgency and anticipation to these days …. It seems we are running out of time….Let’s face it, we are more than halfway to Christmas! But getting back to ADVENT… what if – we had that same urgency, or frame of mind & heart, that we were more than halfway to the moment of Christ’s second coming? The reason for the season of Advent is to prepare us for the arrival of our Lord. Yes, for Christmas, as we celebrate the remembrance of our Lord’s first coming…. but this time of preparation, and maybe even the more important work, is to prepare for Christ’s second coming as well. Do we have the same sense of urgency, with the time we have remaining, to make things right and to prepare our hearts and our world for the second coming of our LORD? On this Sunday, It is our tradition, to rejoice and be joyful, to pick up the pace and put into action our focus as we see the GOAL of this season approaching… The Lord is near… the Incarnation of The Prince of Peace! PEACE – It’s something we all want. PEACE – it is something every human being needs in order to thrive. It’s something we all welcome after any period of prolonged struggle or stress. Yet, before there can be true peace – there must be reconciliation …. which is the other important theme and goal of our Advent season, which unfortunately, is often times overlooked & forgotten. If you have been coming to our Saturday Masses during Advent, you will know that the Dominican Order has made a commitment to pray for PEACE in our world during this season of Advent. And in a more particular way, to lift up the healing needs of our brothers and sisters in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This central region of Africa has suffered for over 30 years from some of the cruelest forms of violence and oppression. I say “cruelest” because of the “deliberate intent” of violent and oppressive acts that have been methodically delivered to the Congolese people with the purpose of dividing, dehumanizing and destroying their indigenous communities so that the corporate technological giants of our world can pillage and plunder the Congo’s rich resources for their own political & economical gain with little recompense to the Congolese people. And they are doing so by working in collaboration, often through secret pacts that involve confidentiality clauses in contracts and funding agreements- that keep corrupt, political factions in power to control the territories, the excavation, and the illegal bringing-to-market of many of these resources. Last week we learned the names of these resources which are known as “conflict minerals”: These are minerals such as coltan, cobalt, tin, tungsten, copper, diamonds and gold to name a few. If the names of these minerals didn’t mean much to you… we then learned that they are the key elements in our technologically driven material world… in products such as computers, Nintendo video games, digital cameras, optic fibers, satellites, cell phones, electric car batteries, and jewelry. And if that still didn’t have our attention, we learned that corporations, whose products we commonly use on a daily basis contain these minerals, and are frequently obtained from suppliers who questionably dominate the control of these resources. --- Companies suspected to be affected by these illicit chain-of-supply scenarios have included Nintendo, Samsung, LG, Apple, Sharp, IBM, Microsoft, Toshiba, Cannon, Nikon, Lenovo, Sony,
and other popular brands, as well as several well-known automobile manufacturers. Multiple
products containing DRC minerals are likely to be found in each of our homes. We use and
depend up on them every day.
The problem is less about the fact that we are using these products. But rather, it is more about
the “HOW” human lives are being “Unconscious-ably” exploited in the organized process of
gathering these needed resources.
The HOW is what is so disturbing – or at least it should be. In order to get these minerals – the
mining is being done on the backs of cheap labor and questionable access to the DRC’s precious
mineral resources. In unregulated and unauthorized mining zones Child Labor, Child Soldiers, and
Slave labor are being used to force long working-hours in un-safe, un-healthy work conditions
with little food, clean water, proper housing, or medical care available. The cheap access is
gained by funding militia groups to go in and control the territories. This is done by instilling fear
though war-tactics of burning villages, livestock & agriculture, raping women and children and
killing anyone who dares to resist. (* A reality of tribal warring that I personally witnessed while
ministering in Kenya in 2008.) These tactics destroy the family unit and cause the local people to
flee and abandon their fertile land to the militias who move in, take over and maintain control
with fear. People lose everything they have to save their lives… or submit and work under
humiliating, de-humanizing, and abusive conditions just to stay alive.
This is hard to swallow…(each time I charge my iPhone), This is overwhelmingly sobering…
(each time I reach for my laptop). How has this been going on for so long and none of us
knew? Where do we find JOY in any of this? How do we celebrate Gaudete Sunday?
We return to the meaning and the call of Advent.
We Listen more deeply to the words of John the Baptist who tells us PREPARE THE WAY OF THE
LORD. We Listen to the words of St. Catherine of Siena who tells us SPEAK AS IF YOU HAVE A
MILLION VOICES – FOR IT IS SILENCE THAT KILLS. And we step up the pace with urgency to take
ACTION, to make WRONGS, Right! We must BEGIN by SPEAKING HOPE… We must BEGIN by
SPEAKING LOVE… We must BEGIN by LIVING our FAITH by choosing life under the LIGHT of
Truth. We must BEGIN by how we should begin all things…. IN PRAYER.
In the Desert John has been telling us, along with today’s moral theologians, and our 21st
century modern day prophets, and Pope Francis… take up ACTIONS of Repentance, Examine
and Change our Hearts of Indifference. Everyone has a role and a partnership in God’s
salvation plan… and we are called to actively participate. Christ’s second coming is not just a
waiting game. We are told …. Be found READY. Be found AWAKE, ATENTIVE, and DOING the
WORK OF GOD. This past week on December 10th we celebrated the United Nations
anniversary of HUMAN RIGHTS DAY.. a declaration of 30 human rights that should be
foundational to all human beings. These are the basic human rights and the authentic peace
that the Congolese people are longing to have returned to them.
If there is to be Peace and Joy in the world this Christmas, then we are to be found doing the
work of God’s healing Love. It begins at home in our own hearts… but then GOD’s PEACE, like
GOD’s LOVE is meant to be shared. Margaret Ormand, A Dominican Sister of Peace once
challenged our congregation when speaking of our Dominican Brothers and Sisters living with
the poor and oppressed – She said“ I dare you to let them under your skin and into your
hearts.” Let them be known to you, and let YOUR LOVE be known by them.
WE can take up her words of challenge and BRING JOY and PEACE and HEALING to our brothers
and sisters in the world by becoming informed and involved. If you really want to make a
difference this Christmas take the time during the remainder of these Advent days of
And In the TRADITION of the 4 DOMINICAN Pillars
STUDY – Look up on the internet “Conflict Minerals” in the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Watch the Net-flick Video “The City of Joy” about a healing project and road to recovery for the
abused women of the Congo.
PRAYER – Sincerely be grateful for the blessings we have and use. Ask God’s blessings and
protection on all those who have any part in the production of products that benefit our lives.
May they receive just wages and just treatment in return.
COMMUNITY – Use your voice, your writing skills, your advocacy skills, and your shopping
power.. to be socially responsible citizens of our one world.
And MISSION – find a cause to support that is dedicated to making a physical difference in the
lives of those who have been innocent victims of war and oppression.
My Friends, there is a Christmas Song I believe is familiar to all of us. It is called “Do They Know
It’s Christmas time at all? ” ( by Band Aid ) Go home and listen to it with fresh ears, and then …
Do these things…with love in your hearts, and Let them know it IS Christmas time in our world!