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PARISH TEAM CONTACTS:
PO Box 21
Cranebrook NSW 2749
86-94 Andromeda Drive,
86 Andromeda Drive,
94 Andromeda Drive,
Tel: 61 2 4730 1249
Fax: 61 2 4729 2989
Fr George O'Mara:
Mrs Marie Cottee - Secretary:
(Tues, Thurs & Fri 9am - 4pm)
Mrs Sue Weekes - Office support:
Mrs Joanne Hocking - Sacraments Support
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT - YEAR B
Reflection by Richard Leonard SJ...
Today is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Over the first millennium of Christianity Advent was like a late Lent. Both were five weeks long, both were marked by fasting and penance and both gave the faithful a day off half way through. In Lent Laudete Sunday is still, roughly, half way through the five-week season. Advent, however, was shortened to four weeks in the tenth century, and Pope St Gregory the Great eased the fasting and penitential aspects of this season in the twelfth century, but the not-so-half-way Gaudete Sunday has remained. It is, literally, the ‘rejoicing’ Sunday when we look more directly at Jesus’ coming at Christmas.
To enable us to look at Jesus we start with the man who heralded his mission in the world, John the Baptist. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist is the model of humility, opening the way for the Kingdom of Jesus to break in upon the world. We should never underestimate talent spotters, for as this story demonstrates, they all have John the Baptist as their patron saint.
Fleming was a poor Scottish farmer in the nineteenth century. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.
The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse cottage. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. ‘I want to repay you,’ said the nobleman. ‘You saved my son's life.’ ‘No, I can't accept payment for what I did,’ the Scottish farmer replied, waving away the offer.
At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family home. ‘Is that your son?’ the nobleman asked. ‘Yes,’ the farmer replied proudly. ‘I'll make you a deal. Let me take him and give him a good education. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll grow up to be a man you can be proud of.’ And that is what he did.
In time, Farmer Fleming’s son graduated from St Mary’s Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin. Years afterward, the nobleman's son was stricken with pneumonia. What saved him? Penicillin.
The nobleman's name? Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill.
John the Baptist, the embodiment of the old covenant, recognises who Jesus is for the world and encourages his foes and friends alike to welcome in the Christ, the new and everlasting Covenant. Just like Farmer Fleming or Lord Randolph Churchill, he could not have known the implications of what he was doing. John the Baptist simply saw Jesus and knew that Love had taken human form. Through his talent spotting and in his promotion of Jesus he enabled the first generation of Christians to see and believe that the promises made to their ancestors had been fulfilled.
No wonder we have him as our focus on Gaudete Sunday. And so may we all rejoice today, not only because salvation is always close at hand in Christ the Lord, but because we are also called to spot his love in every act of goodness we see, encourage and promote it as best we can and then watch nature and grace do the rest.