December 11, 2011 Third Sunday of Advent – B cycle
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
John 1:6-8, 19-28
My dear brothers and sisters, Good Morning, How are you this Sunday! We rejoice that our volunteers and benefactors visit and celebrate this Mass with us. We would like to extend our hearty welcome to all of you. I hope and pray that you also rejoice in the Lord always. Rejoice, Indeed, the Lord is near. Let us give thanks to the Lord, for our God gives us this Sunday of rejoicing and our helpers work with great joy.
Rejoice in the Lord always.
It is the third Sunday of Advent that is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete, it means Rejoice, from the Latin word gaudere. Yes, it is Rejoice Sunday.
Today we just sing “Rejoice in the Lord always”, we light the rose colored candle. All these things represent our theme of rejoicing. So, we should rejoice and we should be happy.
We have several reasons to rejoice; for one, Advent is halft over and the great celebration of Christmas will be upon us. In fact, Today is the busiest day of the year for our community. Thus we celebrate the Mass an hour earlier than normal, many volunteers and benefactors are gathered to work and serve in our Christmas tree farm. I hope to bring a lot of joy to you, especially Fr Odilo and Br David, by preparing a short homily.
Anyway, rejoicing is also a big part of what it means to prepare for Christmas. The good news of Advent is that God is coming to you and to me and to all nations. Our God’s promises are being fulfilled. And we are to await that, to believe that. That is cause for celebration and for rejoicing.
Today’s reading also overflow with rejoicing. We read in Isaiah: “I rejoice heartly in the Lord”. Saint Paul says to us: “Rejoice always”. The only place we did not hear rejoicing is in today’s Gospel? Rather we hear the Levites and Pharisees question John the Baptist about who he is?”A man named John was sent from God? He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him? He was not the light, but came to testify to the light”? John the Baptist knew who he was? He was not the Messiah? He was not the Light?
Instead, the role of John the Baptist is always to point to the Lord who is to come. He is the one who prepares the way of the Lord. He is preaching so that sinners might turn from their sins, and preaching the gospel to the contrite in heart, telling them of the good news of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Therefore, we rejoice, because God has paid the debt we could not pay. God freed us from the chains we could not break. God gave us a new life, a right spirit, and a clean heart, all ours through faith in Jesus Christ, in whom we have the forgiveness of sins.
It is hard for us to live a life of rejoicing always. Now, we are able to rejoice always despite the many sorrowful circumstances of our lives. This is because we are not only in sorrow, pain, trouble, and suffering.
This is a command taken directly from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians in today’s second reading: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
At all times and in all circumstances we must rejoice, pray and give thanks. He adds that this command reflects the will of God for those who come through Jesus Christ. As followers of Christ we know that our life is not always easy, but our hope is not in this life only. That is why we are able to rejoice in good times and in bad, as Jesus himself did.
Let us ask today that we may seek the living God among us and rejoice in Him. So, we are beginning today, the Rejoice Sunday. Today, we are rejoicing in the Lord, and we are hoping for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.