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Watches of the Night
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"Watches of the Night"

"Gaudete Watchmen"

          Traditionally, the third Sunday of Advent is known as "Gaudete" Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word which means "rejoice". In Luke 1:28 we read, "Rejoice, full of grace." The first word that the Father speaks to Mary through the angel, Gabriel, at the scene of the Annunciation is the word, "rejoice". It is the first word of the new creation spoken to the heart of Mary for all of humanity to receive. This fact reveals a profound truth regarding God's intention for humanity. It:

"is a form of greeting which can be understood as an invitation to joy...The Father reveals his intention to communicate true and definitive joy to humanity. The Father's own joy, which consists in having his Son beside him, is offered to everyone" (John Paul II, General Audience, January 5, 2000).

          Intercessors are called to be God's "Gaudete watchmen", God's joyful burden bearers; for, we experience the joy of identifying so closely with Jesus. Authentic joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. This joy is the delight that wells up in us when we are in the presence of Jesus who is perfect love: "The Lord...is the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings" ("Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World"; GS # 45).

           In the second reading of this Sunday's mass, St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:16). There is an intimate connection between incessant rejoicing and constant prayer. This deep joy is the Lord's own joy: "That my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete" (John 15:11). The joy of the Lamb "touches" the "altar of our hearts", awakening a desire to pray and offer because it is Jesus  who lives within us to make intercession (see Heb. 7:25). Authentic joy motivates us to  let go of ourselves and allow Jesus to live more fully within us: "That I may come to the altar of God, to God, my joy, my delight" (Ps. 43:4). There at the inner altar of the heart, prayer rises as a "fragrant incense" in the presence of God. The Lord has promised to make us joyful intercessors:

 "Them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer...For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (Is. 56:7).

          The authentic joy of an intercessor is born of hope: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy" (Rom. 15:13). Hope strengthens our hearts and moves us to joy which in turn becomes a source of strength which we intercede from: "For rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength" (Neh. 8:10).  Through his intimate relationship with the Father Jesus drew strength from both hope and joy to offer himself as a living sacrifice for all of humanity: "For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross" (Heb. 12:2).

            Joy wells up within us when our hearts "see" the Lord:

"Hark! Your watchmen raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion" (Is. 52:8).

"Gaudete intercessors" beg God to restore the "Zion" of every heart to become "like a bride bedecked with her jewels" (Is.61:10)--radiant with joy, and conscious of its "spousal" identity.  For, we desire others to see what we see with the eyes of the heart, and to hear what we hear with the ears of the heart: "Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears, because they hear" (Mt. 13:16).  

          In Luke 1:28 Mary is invited to rejoice first of all because God loves her. God rejoices over each human being and sees each as a delight. Intercessors stand firmly upon this foundational truth and pray for this grace to be received by those for whom we pray:

"He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love" (Zeph. 3:17); "For the LORD delights in you" (Is. 62:4); "For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight" (Is. 65:18).   

          Every human being is hungry for joy just as we are hungry for love. Each of these fruits of the Holy Spirit is found in Jesus. We are created to experience the joy of God in our lives. Hence, intimate relationship with Jesus is a source of joy. Intercessors pray for others to experience this intimacy with Jesus. For, this is what changes lives.

Questions:

1)   Do I lack joy in any particular area(s) of my life?

2)   Am I experiencing the joy of this season of Advent or only the burden?

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; Ps. 21:7; Ps. 34:6; Is. 40:31;                                                              1Pet. 1:3,8

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-SEVEN, TIME TO STORM HEAVEN"

**PLEASE VISIT THE "WATCHES OF THE NIGHT" FOLDER ON THE "TEACHINGS" TAB FOR ADDITIONAL ADVENT TEACHINGS**

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