I heard an interesting homily on Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday a fews years ago. In our liturgical cycle, the same readings came up again today. Our presider, Father Raphael, relayed to the congregation the story of a policeman who was asked by an out of town visitor where he might find a church for Sunday services. He did not specify any particular religious preference and so the policeman recommended a Catholic Church that was on his ‘beat’. When the visitor asked him why he referred him to that church, the policeman replied, “Those people coming out of that church are always so happy. They say they receive Jesus Christ into their hearts and they take Him with them when they leave, to their homes, and everywhere else they go…”
Of course, that’s how it should be for all of us. The joy we feel after we receive the Eucharist should carry us out the door and into our new week’s activities and encounters with everyone we meet “everywhere else we go”. We are all called to be messengers of Christ, like John the Baptist who is the main character in that Sunday’s Gospel reading. Do people think of us as a messenger of Christ? Do our conduct, our words, our actions reflect our joy in the Lord’s presence in our lives?
We used to tell our kids when they were youngsters and we were stationed in Germany that they needed to always be mindful that in a foreign land we are ambassadors and representatives of our own country. We had a responsibility to behave in exemplary ways that reflected well on our nation, so that people would know Americans were nice, thoughtful, polite, friendly people. As emissaries for Christ, then, as Christians, we bear a much greater responsibility to reflect Christ not only in a positive way, but in a joyful way, so that we are attractive to those who don’t know Jesus.
For a stranger to say, “I want what they have,” is a worthy goal. In these same Sunday readings on Gaudete Sunday, we learn that we should “rejoice always”. Why? Because we know the Lord and we believe in His mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and love for each one of us. We know that He died for us, to save us from our sin. And that He rose and will come again!
We know that the fulfillment of the Kingdom He established on earth is completely ours in Heaven and that His promises are true. We know He is with us always and left His Spirit which is living within us. So we have certain hope of being with Him totally and forever one glorious day. We should love in such a joyful way and live in such a joyful way because of this knowledge so that others will want to follow us to Christ.