Rejoice in the Lord and God’s goodness always

Rejoice in the Lord and God’s goodness always

Msgr. Louis A. Marucci, pastor, Saint Andrew the Apostle Church, Gibbsboro, blesses Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli prior to his recent concert at the Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia.

Did you know that certain Sundays take their names from the first Latin word in the Introit, (the antiphon of the Mass.) Gaudete Sunday does just that. The first words on this day are taken from Philippians and command us to “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

The Scriptures speak of the priceless treasure each of us received and reminds us to be people of great joy. In the first reading, Isaiah overflows with joy and wonder. He recognizes himself as anointed and understands his purpose. He is commissioned to bring good news to the oppressed and to bind up the brokenhearted. In the responsorial canticle, Mary is equally overjoyed. She too recognizes herself as blessed and God’s goodness as infinite. In the Gospel, John the Baptist identifies himself as the one crying out in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord. He recognizes himself as the one Isaiah foretold. He knows his place and his relationship with the One who is to come. John’s role is to point to the Messiah.

Our three faithful forerunners knew deeply that they were loved by God. This knowledge bubbled within them, giving them a cause to rejoice. What about us? Do we recognize that we are loved by God? I am neither Isaiah nor Mary nor John the Baptist, but on most days I understand that I am a beloved child of God with a divine purpose — with much to be grateful about. And God lets us know in little ways just how special we are to him.

Recently, through the kindness of the Burruano Family, I had the extraordinary privilege to meet with Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli prior to his magnificent concert at the Wells Fargo Center. The arrangements were coordinated through the kindness of Mrs. Bocelli, as Rosalie Burruano used to serve as the nanny to Andrea’s older sons when they were toddlers 17 years ago. They have maintained a friendship throughout the years, and I was a beneficiary of their relationship: (Thank you Joe, Rosalie and Mamma Burruano!).

What was extraordinary about the visit was the faith of Andrea Bocelli. He was not the least bit intimidated to request a benediction prior to the performance, and in his own words, so “the Lord would work through his music to those in attendance.”

I always say, “For heights and depths no words can reach, Music is the soul’s own speech.” Thus, we were able to sit and pray together, and I was able to offer the blessing of Almighty God to this very talented Maestro.

As we prayed, one could tell that Maestro Bocelli was moved with profound gratitude and joy, which was evident by his facial expression during the prayer and blessing. I am sure it could not hold a candle to my profound gratitude and joy for being the conduit of grace in this situation. It is always an extraordinary blessing to be a priest. Neither Maestro Bocelli, nor myself, nor the members of the Burruano family were the least bit inhibited to pray in the dressing room, and all of us were filled with joy and gratitude.

As children of God, we should all possess hearts of gratitude. This week, take a moment and try to list all of the blessings that have been given to you in your life. Then try to imagine what life is like without those blessings. This might just make us all drop to our knees with an attitude of gratitude.

People with grateful hearts continue to try to make other people’s lives better. Whenever we provide hope for others in desperate situations, we also provide joy.

Finally, if you ever deceive yourself that you have nothing to be joyful about, remember this story that someone recently gave to me. There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, “If I could only see the world, I will marry you.” One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend. He asked her, “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?” The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him. Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: “Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.”

So, before you say an unkind word, think of someone who cannot speak. Before you complain about the taste of your food, think of someone who has nothing to eat. Before you complain about your husband or wife, think of someone who’s crying out to God for a companion. Before you complain about life, think of someone who went too early to heaven. Before you complain about your children, think of someone who desires children but they’re barren, or parents who have had to bury a child. And when you complain about the hectic Christmas season, think of the true meaning of Christmas — that God so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Son, so that all who would believe in him might have eternal life.

Msgr. Louis A. Marucci is pastor, Saint Andrew the Apostle Church, Gibbsboro.

Categories: Columns, Growing in Faith