Third Sunday of Advent, December 12
May the Holy Spirit Empower Each of Us to Give Witness to His Truth, and to Point Others to the Eternal Light, So That All of God’s Children May Be Able to Truly Rejoice, for God Is Truly Near!
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!”
As we enter this third week of Advent, we find hope in a God who truly understands our human condition and urges us to take refuge and comfort in His Most Sacred and Compassionate Heart, in the midst of whatever we may find ourselves experiencing in life.
And there can be no more appropriate passage than the words of rejoicing which we find in Paul’s Letter to the Philippians – on this Third Sunday in Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday or Rejoice Sunday.
The color of today’s liturgical vestments is rose – a color of joy, for today’s occasion reminds us that we will soon celebrate, in a few days, the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord – a day of true hope in itself! For it reminds us of God’s Everlasting Love which He holds for each and every one of us, young and old alike!
The Church, as mother and teacher, calls out to each of us on this Third Sunday of Advent to pause from our Advent preparation. She proclaims in today’s liturgy, from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”
And this Scripture passage underscores the theme of today’s celebration – Joy!
In our Old Testament Reading for today, the Spirit speaks through the Prophet Zephaniah describing a God who rejoices: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart…”
Even John, in our Gospel today, proclaims, and demonstrates, a way of life which should characterize those who live as though they know that the Lord is near. When asked by the crowds what they should do, John responds by calling for a total reformation of their lives.
And the point he makes is an important one – since the Lord is near, we must live differently. And this change in our lifestyle and the way we live our faith will help to ensure that this joy, in anticipation of the coming of Christ, will become more than just a passing emotion!
The very life which you and I live, the very fact that our hearts beat and our lungs breathe, the very fact that we are spending time reflecting upon this meditation, practicing our faith, hearing His Word spoken in Sacred Scripture – all give witness to the fact that God’s Love for us is without measure, and He is the One who has given us these gifts which we have embraced and made a part of our daily lives!
Advent is that special season when we are given that opportunity to reflect upon what we have received – and Gaudete Sunday allows us to pause for a moment and to contemplate what it is we are working toward and what we are seeking in this life.
Many would respond that we are seeking peace or happiness or love. And each of these answers would be correct, for they each speak about the very Nature of God Himself. He is a God of Love, and the peace and happiness which He gives is beyond all manner of human measure or understanding!
And yet, in each of these instances, it is God’s Presence for which we long, even on this side of Heaven, and we rejoice in the knowledge that God wants to fill us with His Love; He desires to fill us with the peace and the joy and happiness which only He can give!
In the world environment in which we live today, where greed and self-indulgence seem to be the norm and suffering for others is their by-product, joy and happiness is more easily achieved by those who are pure of heart. And those who are childlike of heart are more open to and receptive of God’s gifts, for their hope and expectation is on a much simpler and a much purer level.
And each of us, no matter what our age or experiential background may be, need to feel love and peace in our lives. We each need to feel as though we belong and that we are needed and valued by others.
And God needs each of us to live out our faith in not only words, but also deeds. Even the Baptist, in today’s Gospel, is reminding us to give to those who are less fortunate. “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Sadly, the world’s nations are filled with people who are divided into the “haves” and the “have not’s”. And when the economy is bad, the poor oftentimes suffer even more.
But thankfully, for those who are able to reach out to the disadvantaged and the poor, whether it be through food donations, clothing drives, or maybe just a kind word or gesture to show that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, then hearts can be uplifted and joy can be spread – for the gift of love can be contagious and is oftentimes paid forward!
Each and every one of us needs to feel loved; each and every one of us needs to feel appreciated and valued for who we are as a human being, especially when we live in a culture and a society which seems to place importance more on the ego and feelings of selfishness, rather than on living a life of selfless love and giving for the well-being of others.
God is reminding us, in today’s Scriptures, that He is always with us, and that He always loves and values us for who we are as individuals. In our First Reading, we are reminded, “The LORD, your God, is in your midst…he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.”
And we read in our Responsorial today, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.”
You and I have reason to rejoice today! Our Baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Spirit has resulted in a new birth and our entry into God’s Kingdom on this side of the eternal as His beloved sons and daughters!
Jesus is ready to give each of us the Fire of His Spirit, that we may radiate the joy of the Gospel message to a world in desperate need of experiencing God’s Light and Truth.
On this Sunday of rejoicing, we come before Him with an open heart to be fed with His Word and His Body, enabling and strengthening us to change and transform our lives, so that we may be become lights pointing others to Christ. And like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the Eternal Light and Truth of Jesus Christ through our words and our actions.
May the Light of Christ burn brightly within us, so that we may know the love, peace and joy of God’s Kingdom here on Earth, and may the Holy Spirit empower each of us to give witness to His Truth, and to point others to the Eternal Light, so that all of God’s children may be able to truly rejoice, for God is truly near!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5)
- “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart…” (Zephaniah 3:14)
- “The LORD, your God, is in your midst…who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days.” (Zephaniah 3:17-18a)
- “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
- “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:15)
- “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18)
- “[John] said to them in reply, ‘Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.’” (Luke 3:11)
- “God indeed is my salvation; I am confident and unafraid. For the LORD is my strength and my might, and he has been my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
- “With joy you will draw water from the fountains of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)
Prayer for the Day
“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,Alt. Prayer, Third Sunday of Advent (Roman Breviary)
ever faithful to Your promises
and ever close to Your Church:
the Earth rejoices in hope of the Savior’s coming
and looks forward with longing
to His return at the end of time.
“Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling the joy
which His Presence will bestow,
for He is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.”