Last Sunday we celebrated the Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday. The word “Gaudete” is Latin for “Rejoice.” Our responsorial Psalm for last Sunday was not actually a psalm but came from the first chapter of Luke’s gospel 1:46-54 — Mary’s Song or Mary’s Magnificat. We hear Mary praying with all her being as she exclaims “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

Last weekend, I preached about our call to be like Mary, to proclaim and to rejoice in the greatness of the Lord. Mary’s Magnificat is rooted in everything that the Lord is doing in and through her. The Lord is blessing Mary abundantly by choosing her to be the Mother of the Son of God, the one we called Jesus.  Mary says “yes” to this blessing of God and is so overwhelmed that she proclaims her fiat — her “yes” in this beautiful song of praise.

In my homily, I challenge people to think of the many graces and blessings that God has bestowed on them and to be like Mary to rejoice in them–to celebrate those blessings, those graces, in some way. These are challenging days in which we are living and sometimes it is just hard to rejoice in the Lord.

Last Sunday afternoon, I was out walking around Canyon Lake Park. The sun was out, it was a bit chilly, but it was a beautiful day for a walk, rejoicing in the Lord. As I was finishing up my walk, I receive a text message with a picture from Jacques Daniels, who is the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Rapid City. His text said “Rejoice! Phil, our Latin expert, says that it is an imperative, meaning it’s a command! ?. The picture was of his youngest son, Gus, eating a cotton candy ice cream cone.

As I pondered my blessings from the Lord, I, too, thought I better follow suit. Rejoice — it’s a command.

Count your blessings this week and take some time to rejoice.