ADVENT III B GAUDETE (REJOICE) SUNDAY Homily by Fr. Matthias Lusembo THEME: LET US BE JOYFUL The third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday”. The name Gaudete (Rejoice) is taken from the entrance antiphon of the Mass, which is: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near. This is a quotation from Philippians 4:4-5, and in Latin, the first word of the antiphon is gaudete (Latin, “rejoice”). Hence the use of rose candles and vestments, symbols of joy. The common theme of the day’s Scripture readings is one of joy and encouragement. Holy Scripture reminds us that the coming of Jesus, past, present, and future, is the reason for our rejoicing.

In 61:1-11, Prophet Isaiah encourages the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon to rejoice because their God, Yahweh, is their strong Guide, Provider and Protector.  This message is for us too, because Jesus, the Savior is coming to bind up the brokenhearted; To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners, vindication for the oppressed; To comfort all who mourn and to give them everlasting joy and recompense. In the end, even death will be eliminated. “Neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more (Rev. 21:4). 

What does this mean?

God comes to save his people after their exile or pandemic. One simply needs patience until God arrives.

In Luke 1:46-54 Mary rejoices in the great blessing given to her, exclaiming: “My soul glorifies the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”

The Mighty One has done great things for me, His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things.

Ultimately, God will reward our faith and patience, but we must be prepared to wait and to endure hardship.

St. Paul, in the second reading (1Thes 5:16-24), 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 (Jn 1:6-8,19-28) tells us that John the Baptist came to bear witness to Jesus as the Light of the world. The Baptizer wants all the Jews and all of us to rejoice because the long-expected Messiah, will remove the darkness of sin from the world.

We rejoice also because, like John the Baptizer, we, too, are chosen to bear witness to the joy Christ Jesus brings to the world.

One may ask: How can I rejoice when I am in such a bad situation? Whether you are sinful, addicted to sinful substances, sick, poor, bereaved, despised, oppressed, lonely, unwanted, rejected,  marginalized, discriminated against, faithless, hopeless, anxious, worrisome, barren, unlearned, Democrat or Republican, single, married, divorced, young or old, jobless or deprived of your business, or missed a promotion, Rejoice!

Because true joy does not come from your body, your relatives or human friends. True joy does not come from possessions, jobs, money, race, or class, worldly attractions, addictions, young or old age, not even from high level of education.

True joy comes from God, from abandoning oneself to Jesus. Jesus is bringing us the true joy we need. He is coming to take away all the sins that prevent us from rejoicing: anger, hatred, self-pity, unforgiveness, jealousy, greed, arrogance, pride, revenge.

 

Jesus is bringing us instead: Love, even of enemies, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, faith, hope, everlasting happiness. Let us not be discouraged that He has not yet promoted us from our lowly situation. He is still working on it. Our time will come, not even the Pandemic can stop it.

Remember how God promoted people after many trials: Abraham whose barren wife Sarah had to wait until very old age to bear a son; Joseph son of Jacob was sold by his brothers, imprisoned in Egypt and then promoted to being second in command in Egypt; David son of Jesse was promoted from being a despised and persecuted shepherd to being a powerful king of Israel; Mary, the village girl from Nazareth was promoted to being the Mother of God; Jesus Himself was promoted through suffering, death, resurrection.

Let us continue receiving Him with joy. He will bring us to all the great things he created for us. Contrary to the Corona Virus, let us infect people with joy wherever we may be. If you want promotion to joyous positions, radiate joy with corporal and spiritual works of mercy, not resentment, complaints, or quarrels. Resentment cannot improve your situation. It can only worsen it. I am speaking from experience: I remember how miserable I was when I still had resentment against two of my brothers who had become drunkards. It was not until I surrendered them to God their Creator that I became joyful. So, we should never allow bad situations to deprive us of our joy. Life on earth is too short to be spent in resentment over things that we cannot even change.

Children, you may be anxious about Christmas gifts. The best git you should wish yourselves to have is Jesus who will bring you all the joy you need.

Let us be joyful.