the shortest distance is between
REJOICE! The Lord is near! There are a couple Sundays throughout the year that have special names taken from the entrance antiphon for the Mass. This Sunday is one of them: Gaudete Sunday. Today, the text in the Missal begins “Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always!”
Not just on this Sunday, but every Advent Sunday the Church meditates on some famous words St. Paul directed to the Philippians (Phil 4,4-7) and to us: “and I say it again: Rejoice.” But, why? Why should we rejoice? Because God is near.
In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul says to the Athenians that God “is not far from any one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” St. Paul is quoting a 6th-century-BC poet, Epimenides of Knossos. Before Emmanuel and after His coming the whole world wants to acknowledge that God is indeed always near, and this can give us a reason to rejoice. God is near to us in His essence, in our being!
In the same way, God guides all things, and therefore God is always near in providence. It’s not necessary to preoccupy ourselves with worry about being selfish when we pray, because God knows everything and can do everything, and if there really is a need to have the thing for which we pray, then God will give it to us. And St. Paul says: “The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”
But what is the joy of Advent, and what is the joy of Christmas? Why should we be joyful now, before Christmas? The passage from St. Paul to the Philippians continues: “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
God is near not only in His essence and in his providence, but especially in Jesus Christ Himself. God is near to us personally. In our Lord Jesus Christ, God became man, and therefore became near to every person. “The Lord be with you,” we say, and it is true! God is near to us in His essence, in His providence, in His person, and we even go so far as to call our Lady, the Mother of our Savior, the Cause of our Joy. Rejoice! Because Our Lord is merely near us? Because our Lord saves us and redeems us. Although we are confused and sad, although we may yet be captive to painful sinfulness, our Lord is near, and He comes to save.