THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT: WATCH – PREPARE – REJOICE
The common theme running through today’s readings is one of joy and encouragement. The readings stress the need for patience in those awaiting the rebirth of Jesus in their hearts and lives. They give us a messages of hope—for people almost three millennia ago, for people at the beginning of the first millennium and for people today. Today is called Gaudete Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon: “Gaudete in Domino semper,” i.e., “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Today, to express our joy in the coming of Jesus as our Savior, we light the rose candle, and the priest may wear rose vestments. The prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, encourages the exiled Jews in Babylon to believe that God is going to save them and transform their lives. In the second reading, James the Apostle encourages the early Christians to be patient, “because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Finally, in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus encourages John the Baptist to cast away the popular political expectations about the Messiah and simply to accept his healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah.
Life messages: Myra had worked for many years in a large, business office. Many different things were said about Myra, but on one point all her colleagues agreed: Myra was a hateful person. She had a way of quickly turning off anyone who tried to befriend her. She was a loner, a disagreeable one at that. Consequently, whenever a new employee was hired, the warning went out, "Stay away from Myra." This situation lasted for years until a new employee, whom we shall call Margaret, arrived on the scene. Disregarding all the friendly warnings, Margaret made a special effort to let Myra know that now there was someone in that office who really cared about her. Amazingly, this initial expression of kindness eventually began to bear fruit. Myra was breaking out of her shell. She was communicating more easily. She even was developing a friendship or two. Then, early one morning, the entire office staff was shocked to learn that Margaret had died suddenly the night before. When Myra heard the news she cried and cried and said over and over again, "Margaret was the only Christ I ever knew, she was the only Christ I ever knew."
Reflections: 1) We need to learn how to survive a Faith crisis; 2) “Go and tell others what you hear and see.” And 3) We need to open our hearts and let God transform our lives