From the Pastor's Desk
GAUDETE SUNDAY…REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS….
The third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday” because the Mass for today (in its original Latin text), begins with the opening antiphon: “Gaudete in Domino semper” -- “Rejoice in the Lord always.” To remind ourselves that we are preparing for the very joyful occasion of the birth of Jesus, we light the rose candle in the Advent wreath, and the priest may wear rose vestments. The common theme of the day’s Scripture readings is one of joy and encouragement. The readings urge us to make the preparations required of us as we await the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives. Holy Scripture reminds us that the coming of Jesus, past, present, and future, is the reason for our rejoicing.
The Prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, encourages the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon to rejoice because their God, Yahweh, is their strong Guide, Provider and Protector. In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Luke 1:46 ff.) Mary rejoices in the great blessing given to her, exclaiming: "My soul glorifies the Lord; my spirit finds joy in God my Savior."
St. Paul, in the second reading, advises the Thessalonian Christians to “rejoice always” by leading blameless, holy and thankful lives guided by the Holy Spirit, because Christ’s second coming is near, and he is faithful in his promise to reward them.
Today’s Gospel tells us that John the Baptist came to bear witness to Jesus as the Light of the world. The Baptizer wants all the Jews to rejoice because the long-expected Messiah, as the light of the world, will remove the darkness of sin from the world. We rejoice at the humility of John the Baptizer, who tells the Sanhedrin members challenging him that he is unworthy even to become the slave of Jesus the Messiah. We also rejoice in the sincerity and commitment of John who spent himself completely in preparing people for the long-awaited Messiah. We have an additional reason to rejoice because, like John the Baptizer, we, too, are chosen to bear witness to Christ Jesus, the Light of the world.
We need to bear witness to Christ the Light. Our mission, as brothers and sisters of Christ and members of his Church, is to reflect Christ’s Light to others, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. It is especially important during the Advent season that we reflect Christ’s sharing love and his unconditional forgiveness through our lives. There are too many people who live in darkness and poverty, and who lack real freedom because of their evil addictions and bad choices. There are others who are deafened and blinded by the cheap attractions of the world. Many others feel lonely, unwanted, rejected, and marginalized. Let us bring the true Light of Christ to illumine the lives of all these brothers and sisters during this Advent season through our sharing love, overflowing mercy, unconditional forgiveness, and humble service. We will be able to accomplish this witnessing mission of radiating Christ’s Light only by repenting of our sins, asking God’s pardon every day, and by renewing our lives through our daily prayers, by frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation, by attending and taking part in the Eucharistic celebration, by reading the Bible daily in meditative, prayerful fashion, and by performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy where we see these are needed.