Dear Friends and Parishioners,
In recent months, mental and behavioral health professionals expressed concern about how Covid-19 is impacting everybody, especially as the holidays approach and millions are spending more time indoors due to the weather. One of the primary stressors is the need to keep our distance in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, professionals are making the observation that many suffer “social” isolation due to their separation from loved ones and friends. And it’s more than simply physical isolation. For many, it’s the mental and spiritual loneliness that folks are experiencing. For others, stress is connected to the radical change in routine patterns and even finances. Family members have been unable to visit their loved ones in hospitals and other health facilities or nursing homes. Loved ones have not physically visited their vulnerable parents or other relatives for fear of exposing them to Covid. Those working in the health community refrain from much of a life outside their immediate environment so as not to “bring their work home” with them. People are becoming more anxious as their financial resources dwindle or the future of their current job is jeopardized. Bills need to be paid and groceries obtained. Already strained marriages are at their breaking point. Substance abuse is on the rise for weathered addicts and new recruits. Domestic violence is a growing issue. For many of our children, the classroom has been their dining room table or some corner of the house. Masks continue to be worn, distancing remains the norm, and our chapped hands continue to be sanitized everywhere we go.
And here we are, called to celebrate Gaudete Sunday, this third Sunday of Advent. In the midst of a pandemic, we’re called to rejoice. Why?
Because in the midst of all of this every bit of pain, every shadow of darkness, every grieving moment, and with each moment of temptation to despair we truly believe that God is in our midst. We can rejoice because there is hope.
Like the Baptist crying out in the wilderness, we’re called to proclaim the Christ. Hopeful, joyful expectation. Our Advent, both liturgically and in our current Sitz im Leben (“setting in life”), calls us to a joy not fully recognized. Like Saint John who spent his life pointing to Christ, we’re called to do the same. Point to Christ! Help others see the Good News in and through all of these things. Trust others who are doing the same as they point to Christ. Continue to be creative. Rejoice!