Sunday, December 12, 2021

2021 Gaudete Sunday Homily

 Gaudete Sunday, December 11th and 12th, 2021


Saint Paul urges the Philippians in our 2nd reading today to “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again:  rejoice!”


Saint Paul, in this passage, is not asking us to have joy.  We are told, (and even to some extent commanded) to rejoice, which of course is a verb.  It is an action to rejoice.  


As Saint Paul continues in his letter to the Philippians, “Have no anxiety at all”  Anxiety and Rejoicing are mutually exclusive – as in you cannot be rejoicing while being anxious.


At this point, I would like to introduce a powerful saintly intercessor for people suffering from anxiety or any other mental illness.  Of course I am not saying that if you ask for this saint’s intercession, you do not need any other medical intervention nor counseling, but if I could share my own testimony briefly, over the last year and a half, I had 2 awful bouts of anxiety, both side effects of different drugs I was taking related to surgeries and chemo.  Panic attacks were the most common manifestation, particularly at night when trying to fall asleep, and I would almost always sweat so much that I would soak my clothes.

And it is at this point I turned to the intercession of St. Dymphna, an Irish saint from the 600’s who is the patron saint of people afflicted with mental illnesses.  Every time I reached out to her asking her intercession, whether it was to help me fall asleep, or to calm down, I almost instantly felt better.  Not cured but better.

We live in the most anxious time in the history of humanity.  Social media, normal media, fears about the coronavirus, fear and anxiety are almost inevitable…but we are commanded to rejoice…and I think in some ways that is the best way to evangelize our community…to be people who rejoice IN THE MIDST of fear!

Psalm 23 encourages us telling us even though we walk through the valley of death we shall fear no evil, and the Bible mentions 365 times, including our first reading tonight, to not be afraid.


As Christmas approaches, let us be people who make the decision to rejoice, and may that rejoicing transform both us and the culture around us.  St. Dymphna, patron Saint of all those suffering from mental distress, anxiety, depression, mental illness, etc. please intercede and pray for us!

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