Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Today is the day in Advent when we rejoice – Gaudete Sunday! The prayers and readings make this theme so very clear. Isaiah tells us, "I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul." Our response to Isaiah echoes the joy of Mary and her song of praise which we call the "Magnificat" as we, too, sing out and say, "My soul rejoices in my God!" As if we need even more of a reminder to sing out our joy and gladness, St Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians declares, "Brothers and sisters rejoice always." Even the chasuble of the celebrating priest at the altar may reflect this light, festive mood as he dons a vestment that is rose colored.
And why such rejoicing? But of course, we know only too well, don’t we? The Lord is near; the long-awaited messiah is to come very soon. John the Baptist perseveres in his mission to remind us to be ready for this great coming, even as he finds himself, like Isaiah, to be simply a voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord."
We who are called to this rejoicing in the Lord can only ask ourselves on this Third Sunday of Advent a very important question: "Am I ready to greet the Lord as he comes to bring salvation?" We can only wonder if we have opened our hearts sufficiently so that the great mystery of the Incarnation might unfold within us as it does in the hearts of so many of my brothers and sisters. How encouraging is this special rose-colored Sunday when our gracious God, so true to his promise, fills our hearts with joy and anticipation for the birth of our Savior!
Fr. Pat Brennan, CP is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.