Rejoice in the Lord
by Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
Advent is, and remains a time to prepare for the Coming of the Lord and it is a time to be very vigilant. For two Sundays now, focus on preparation has been on conversion and repentance. The theme of joy is planted in the decorum of today’s liturgy with the entrance antiphon from Phil 4: 4-5: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near”. The 3rd Sunday of Advent known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice”. It is a reminder that as Christians, we are to be joyful people.
One of the greatest, though most neglected of all our Christian obligations is the obligation to rejoice. It is a command taken directly from our second reading of today Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. Paul begins by telling us what we must do at all times. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Despite the widespread consumerism in today’s world which leads people to develop a covetous heart with no place for the poor, God’s joy must be felt. Pope Francis insists on the fact that “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set from sin, sorrow inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew” (Evangelii Gaudium 1).
This beginning of Evangelii Gaudium, within the fabric of the teaching of Pope Francis, rings out with surprising vitality, proclaiming the wonderful mystery of the Good News that transforms the life of the person who takes it to heart. We are told the parable of joy: our meeting with Jesus lights up in us its original beauty, the beauty of the face on which the Father’s glory shines (cf. 2Cor 4:6), radiating happiness.
On this note, the Gospel, despite its being radiant with the Glory of Christ’s cross constantly invites us to rejoice. We find this joy at the annunciation (Luke 1:28), the Visitation (Luke 1:47) and in the Magnificat (Luke1:47).
We really do have much to be joyful about! As Catholics, we have gained access into a holy family and a relationship with God. We have been given the opportunity for everlasting life and the assurance that we are loved and will be eternally cared for.
Through the Example of John the Baptist example, let us be that voice crying out in the desert and show the world the Joy that radiates through us. Like John the Baptist, may our faith radiate the truth, that no matter what trial, obstacle, or discomfort comes upon us, we deeply know that Christ is present, and that he will come again offering an eternal life of joy, love, and peace for those who truly embrace him.
The message of this Third Sunday of Advent is simple: Our lives must lead others to rejoice in the Light just as John the Baptist did.