Rejoice in the Lord Always!

Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, the Church celebrates Gaudete Sunday, a Latin word that means “rejoice!” Today the rose colored candle on the Advent Wreath is lit and serves as a reminder that we are getting closer to Christmas. The light is getting brighter and is symbolic of Christ, who is the Light, scattering the darkness of our world.

Today’s readings are filled with joy and hope in the coming of the Lord. In our first reading the Prophet Isaiah foretells the mission of the Messiah. “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.”

One day after Jesus began his public ministry, he stood up in the Temple and was handed the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. He opened it to the above passage, read it to the congregation, and concluded by saying, “Today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus was telling them that the fulfillment of the prophesy was to be found in him, and it became his inaugural address. This is what the mission of the Messiah will entail; a new and radical call as to what the Kingdom of God is all about.

To further emphasize this fact, the Apostle Paul urges us to: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Today’s message which ushers in the second half of the Season of Advent and calls us to prepare for Christmas, brings our minds back to the first Christmas when Christ’s coming was greeted with high expectations of a new horizon-shift in favor of the children of God.

This was accomplished as we now live in the Christian era. The era of the favor of God, as Jesus declared the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah.

In this era of Christ, every December 25th draws our attention to Christ’s timely intervention to our world. Christ is once again born into us. He comes to reassure us of his constant presence even till the end of time. This is why Gaudete Sunday comes to lift up our hopes even as we await the Lord in this year’s Advent.

As we continue on our Advent journey, may the words of today’s entrance antiphon ring in our ears, find a place in our hearts, and be active in our lives: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.”

– Fr. Dennis, December 13, 2020