Today is known as Gaudete Sunday, from the first word of the Introit, and from the Epistle (Philippians 4:4-7). "Gaudete," says St. Paul, "Rejoice… for the Lord is near." Taking this as a command, the Church today wears her festive garments, because soon we will be celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.
"The Lord is near," but the world does not know him, like the priests and Levites in today's Gospel (John 1:19-28) who question John the Baptist, "Who are you?" John was only "the voice of one crying in the wilderness," but he says to his unbelieving questioners, "In the midst of you there has stood One Whom you do not know."
The Baptist would have to say the same to this generation. Jesus Christ, the long awaited Messiah and Savior of the world, is in the midst of us, but the world refuses to recognize Him, taking up as a refrain the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, "let His name be remembered no more" (Jeremias 11:19). Let there be no more Christmas Carols, no more "Merry Christmas," no more Nativity scenes to remind us of the birth of the God-Man.
Oh, the ingratitude of the world! If "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that those who believe in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting," (John 3:16), our gratitude must be equally generous, as far as human nature allows. His Holy Name must be in our hearts and reverently on our lips. His likeness should be always near, especially at Christmastide, in paintings, statues and Nativity scenes. We should be, as St. Paul says, "filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in (our) hearts to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father" (Ephesians 5:18-20).
Jesus Christ is nothing less than "the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6). Each day we get up and are on our way, but if "our way" is not Jesus Christ, "the Way," we soon stray from "the way of peace" and end up like those "who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1:79). It does no good to look for another "way," since all other ways lead eventually to destruction. As St. Peter says, speaking of Jesus Christ at Pentecost, "For there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
On the contrary, the conciliar church now teaches that even atheists can be saved if they are "committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith…", and if they have "a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption" (Benedict XVI, General Audience, Nov.30, 2005, Zenit.org).
For John Paul II it was no problem. In his letter for Mission Sunday, October 20, 2002, he declared: "Through evangelization, believers help people to realize that we are all brothers and sisters and, as pilgrims on this earth, although on different paths, we are all on our way to the common Homeland…" (May 20, 2002, Zenit.org). With so many paths available, who needs Baptism?
Salvation is thus assured for all, since all men have been united with Jesus Christ through His Incarnation and Crucifixion, whether they like it or not, whether they deny it or not. As a result, says John Paul, quoting the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes, peace can be called "the fruit of that right ordering of things with which the divine founder has invested human society…" So what if they have declared themselves independent of God and His Commandments. They've got the power.
Take the United Nations Organization. Paul VI declared "We have faith in the UN," and called it the "obligatory pathway" in his speech to the United Nations on October 4, 1965:
"Our message desires to be, above all, a solemn, moral ratification of this lofty Organization. This message is born from our historic experience. It is as a specialist in humanity that we bring to this Organization the approval of our more recent predecessors, the entire Catholic episcopate, and our own, convinced as we are that this Organization represents the obligatory pathway for modern civilization and world peace."
"[W]e bring to this organization the approval of… the entire Catholic episcopate, and our own." It is difficult not to think that this is an act of apostasy. The traditional Church takes to heart the Scriptures and the lessons of history. "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes" (Psalm 118:8,9). And in Psalm 146, "Put not your trust in princes, in man, in whom there is no salvation." (Psalm 146:3).
Our hope is in the Lord, the Orient from on High, heralded by St. John the Baptist, as prophesied by his father, Zachary: "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Most High, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways, to give to his people knowledge of salvation through forgiveness of their sins, because of the loving-kindness of our God, wherewith the Orient from on high has visited us, to shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1: 76-79).
Our joy in welcoming the Lord is well expressed in this beautiful passage from the Prophet Isaiah. Though the darkness of unbelief covers the earth, we rejoice in the light of Christ:
"Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth and a mist the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light, and kings in the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thy eyes round about and see: all these are gathered together, they are come to thee. Thy sons shall come from afar and thy daughters shall rise up at thy side… Thy sun shall go down no more and thy moon shall not decrease. For the Lord shall be unto thee for an everlasting light: and the days of thy mourning shall be ended" (Isaias 60:1-4;20).
"He who testifies to these things says, 'It is true, I come quickly!' Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Apocalypse 20:20).