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Rejoice!

3rd Sunday of Advent – Cycle C

Today is Gaudete Sunday. If you’ve ever wondered, Gaudete, in Latin, is the command form of rejoice. So today the Church is telling us to rejoice!

The Prophet Zephaniah sets forth three things that come with our salvation:

  1. Forgiveness of sins/failings
  2. Security from anything that can harm us
  3. Fellowship with God.

It’s no wonder, then, that we would sing for joy at our own salvation; but what’s truly astounding, and indeed a great source of consolation, is that God loves so greatly that HE will rejoice and sing joyfully over us.

In the Psalm today we get this sense that Israel was expecting a great and powerful military king, or a large pillar of fire; what they didn’t expect was that the savior would be coming in vulnerability in the womb of Mary. And though Our Lord didn’t come in military might, we still cry out with joy and gladness, for he is coming among us very soon.

In the second reading, St Paul is telling us to rejoice always because the Lord is near! But it’s not exactly possible for us humans to always be in a state of joy; if you’ve experienced anything in life, you know perpetually being joyful is not realistic, as we’re all subject to changing moods. However, through prayerful dialogue with Our Lord, we can keep recalling the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Gospel; that this Good News of Jesus Christ is specifically for each one of us.

The Good News that we’re preparing for this season is the coming of Christ, we’re preparing for his coming both liturgically at Christmas and eschatologically at his Second Coming. And this is exciting! There is great reason to rejoice because God gives us his promise that he is near. And indeed he is, he is here in the blessed sacrament, and we’re about to receive him even more intimately, even more closely, at communion. And, my friends, that is the greatest reason to rejoice!

Now, if you’ve followed along so far, you might have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Gospel readings today. That’s because they’re not easy, and they make great demands on us.

“Most people today want a religion which suits the way they live, rather than one which makes demands upon them. Religion thus becomes a luxury like an opera, not a responsibility like life.”

Venerable Fulton Sheen

And so I have a quote I’d like to read to you from St Basil the Great, an Early Church Father:

“The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry. The cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked. The shoes you allow to rot belong to the barefoot. The money in your vaults belongs to the destitute. You do injustice to every man whom you could help but do not.”

And so, like those who asked John in the Gospel today, we too ask, “What should we do?” My friends, we have our answer, we know almost intuitively that we are to give what we can. If we have two cloaks, we must give one to the man without a cloak, and in these acts of charity we will find our Joy in Christ Himself.

Published inScriptural Reflections