Rejoice, Rejoice All You Who Are Faithful!
Readings: (1st: Is 61, 1-2.10-11: Ps: Lk 1, 46-54; 2nd: 2 Th 5, 16-22: Gos: Jh 1, 6-8. 19-28)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
The third Sunday of Advent is a Sunday of joy (Gaudete). Having come thus far in our journey, the Church says to us as the prophet Nehemiah said to the Israelites: “Go and enjoy…Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh 8, 10). However, after today, we must continue our journey with a new zeal and expectation.
In our first reading today, Isaiah busts out in Joy as he experienced the divine presence and hand of God tremendously at work in his life and mission: “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me to…” This is a song of joy and satisfaction of an empowered person. He recounts what God has done in his life.
This too should be our song today because, we have been filled with the Spirit of God. We are filled in order to be strengthened for the last phase of our journey this Advent. So, in appreciation for this, we shout for joy to the Lord. This is the great joy that Gaudate Sunday provokes. That is, the joy that our Saviour is near.
Our second reading is an explicit exaltation from Paul to us especially on this great and joy-filled Sunday of Advent: “Be happy at all times, pray constantly, and for all things give thanks to God…” In this brief exaltation, we find a wonderful progression. First, it is an exaltation to be happy, joyful and cheerful because our journey so far has been so good.
Second, it is an exaltation to “Pray constantly,” to be vigilant. Therefore, for Gaudate Sunday to be truly meaningful, it must provoke a great feeling of joy and thankfulness, while still strongly preserving, and keeping us focused on our journey and duty this glorious season of Advent. It is not the end our journey.
Once again, today our gospel revolves round the prophecy and clarion call of the “Prophet of Prophets,” John the Baptist. The major difference between today’s gospel and that of last week rests simply on the fact that they are accounts from different writers Mark and John. The message remains functionally and ontologically the same. It is still from: “The voice that cries in the wilderness, make a straight way for the Lord.”
Why is this reading and call being repeated this joyful Sunday? It is for the purpose of emphasis. It is to remind us that, though we are given a little time to relax and rejoice today, that the clarion call is still there: “Make a straight way for the Lord.” In order words, our preparation continues. So, it is a way of keeping us alert so that we do not lose focus of where we are actually going to: “It is NOT Christmas yet!” The joy of this Sunday foreshadows the fullness of joy that Christmas brings.
Finally, brethren, as we rejoice today, let us say a loud amen to the prayer of Paul: “May the God of Peace make you perfect and holy, and may you all be kept safe and blameless…for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…God has called you and he will not fail you.” Surely, He will not fail us until we have received Christ, the fullness of our joy and salvation. Surely, he will not fail us because: “All His promises are yes, and amen (2 Cor 1, 20).
Peace be with You!