A friend of my mother’s has a nickname, and his nickname is ‘Whistling Hank.’ And I was asking him how he ever got that nickname and he said that anytime that he went to work, he always wanted to go in there with a good attitude. And so, on the drive there and even on the walk in as he got to the door to work, he would just whistle, because that whistling made him happy and it gave him a good attitude. And that’s how he entered his work. So, everybody knew this man as a joyful, fun man because he whistled. Whistling Hank.
I want you to think about that in terms of how do we come to mass. Do we come to mass really excited to experience God? I’m sure you’ve all heard of this book, it’s an older book, but it’s called, How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Anybody read that book? So, there’s a chapter in the book that’s about a dog. And the chapter about the dog says that whenever the owner comes in and opens the door, the first thing that dog does is starts running to him, barking, licking him; he’s so excited to be with that person. The owner picks him up, he starts kissing, nuzzling him, the dog is excited because the master has come home. So, the premise of that chapter is that that’s how we should approach other people. Be like the dog. So, when your loved ones come home, when your siblings come or your spouse comes home, you are so excited to greet them. And if you are the one coming home, preparing yourself by coming home whistle. Do something that makes you happy and excited to experience the people that you love.
Today we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, which means Rejoice. We are rejoicing because the end is near. What that means is that Christ is going to come into our lives not only here in the sacrament, but at some point, very soon, sooner than we expect, we are going to experience Him in the second coming. I think it’s really important that that’s how we approach mass, that when we come into mass, we are excited to be here. Now thankfully, this is a pretty joyful parish, so you come here naturally like that and if you aren’t joyful when you walk in, you are usually joyful by the time everybody has talked to you. A lot. (laughter) So it’s important that we rejoice; it’s important that we have Joy; it’s important that we approach mass like this. Because sometimes we don’t always approach mass like this, right? Sometimes we come into mass and we are thinking, ‘I don’t know if I want to go today, I don’t want to drag myself out of bed to be there.’ Next Sunday we are going to have to go to two masses because we have Saturday, Sunday and Christmas. Somebody yesterday was asking me if they have to go both masses and I’m like, “YES. Sunday mass and Christmas.” And by the way Sunday night, the evening mass, that’s the vigil for Christmas, that doesn.t count as Christmas mass. So, you have to go to both. So, I told her and you know what she pointed to? She had a necklace that said, ‘Bah Humbug!’ (laughter). Not very rejoiceful, right?
So that’s the first thing that I want to focus on, how do we approach mass? Do we come here expecting to receive God or are we being dragged here by our family? Because if we are being dragged here and we don’t really want to be here, we’re probably not going to experience Christ. So many people say that. They come to mass and they didn’t get anything out of it. I just wonder, how do they approach it? Do they come with this awe and wonder, expecting to hear God’s voice, expecting to receive Him in the Eucharist, and experience Him in the body of Christ? We have to have Joy.
The second thing I want to talk about is with those that you love. How do you approach those that you love? So, think about it. When your loved ones come home from work, or come home from school, how do you greet them? They come in and is the first thing that you do is like, starting to nag them, like ok it’s time to do your chores or I’ve been waiting all day for this, you didn’t do this yesterday, do it now. It that’s the first impression that we have of somebody when we walk in the door, it’s not a very happy place, right? So, think about that, how do we do that, and do we run up to the door all excited because our loved ones are home, just like a puppy would do? And then do we come home like that? I think the drive home, the commute, that’s something we can do to make the commute more pleasant, and also coming home more pleasant, thinking ok, what kind of mentality can I have so that when I walk in the door, I can be truly happy when I see my family. Be like whistling Hank, if you have to whistle the whole time when you are driving home and do something that you can do to be joyful when you come home.
So, first is church, second is when you go home or your loved ones come home and the third, we are celebrating this year of the Eucharistic Revival. And part of the Eucharistic Revival will be, first of all, that we have an encounter with Christ when we experience this Eucharist. But then we are supposed to go out into the world and people when they see us, when they see Catholics, they should experience joyful people, because we have the body of Christ that we receive in mass, and then we go forth into the world. So, think about that, every encounter we have with people should be joyful. Even that person on the phone that you are trying to get into for customer service and you’ve already hit all the buttons, and you finally get a person and they can’t speak English. How can you be joyful with them? We can. Or you are driving in traffic and somebody just cut you off and you might do something bad with your hands. (laughter) What could you do instead of that to be joyful? Or you are waiting in line at the grocery store and the line is huge and you finally get up there and this person doesn’t know what they are doing; they don’t even know how to scan the thing. Have a Joyful interaction with them. And by doing that, people will look at us and say I want what you have. How do I get that Joy? And the answer is we get that Joy from the Eucharist. This is where we receive our Joy.
And so this Gaudete Sunday, we hear in this second reading, the idea of this hearty greeting and this hearty laughter. We rejoice heartily in the Lord. I want you to think in your mind right now, close your eyes if you have to, but think of one person you that has the heartiest laugh, and that every time you experience them, they are so excited to see you. That’s the way our Father is. Our Father is so excited to see you. I think that’s why we love Santa Claus so much, right? He’s always joyful, happy, and hearty, right?
And so, we come here today as we celebrate this Eucharist; we come here with Joyful hearts; we come here so that we can receive the strength of our Lord to love our families, and we also come here to receive all the Joy that we need to go out into the world. And to share this Joy with others. And hopefully, bring people here to receive the Eucharist. This parish is amazing because you just end up bringing other people here, it’s like you just find stray cats, and you bring them to mass here. It’s really cool, I mean because I find over and over again, people say over and over again if you don’t have a church to go to, Saint Matthias is awesome, and every week you are just bringing some stranger here into mass. And that’s what it should be. You are finding the lost sheep, and you are bringing them here to the Eucharist.
So, on this Gaudete Sunday, may we come and approach the Lord with Joy. May we be like Whistling Hank, may we be like that puppy dog that is so excited to see its master, and then may we go out and love our families and all those that we encounter. This Sunday Rejoice! This Gaudete Sunday, be filled with Joy and take Christ into the world.