Fr Vincent's reflections on the 3rd Sunday of Advent
Rejoice! Gaudete! On this Third Sunday of Advent, we are told to REJOICE because Jesus is near. With so much evil in this world, we might find it hard to think about rejoicing. But when we stop and recognize all that God is doing in our world, we can see the Light of Christ, and there truly are many reasons to rejoice today!
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Third Sunday of Advent Video Message 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Third Sunday of Advent, let us pray:
O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As always, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is John 1:6-8, 19-28.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
he admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,’”
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel reading today from St. John is very similar to last weekend’s Gospel reading from St. Mark. However, last weekend we were challenged to acknowledge how well you and I are preparing ourselves to receive Christ; in commemoration of his first coming at Christmas; when he makes his final return; and now in his daily entrances into our lives.
This Third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday – Rejoice! What makes this Sunday so different?
The Gospel reading today begins with a section of John’s prologue recalling that John the Baptist came to testify to the “light,” which is a reference to the Divine Person of Jesus. The First Reading from Isaiah and the Second Reading from First Thessalonians speak about the work of God in the world, already happening, that is transforming the darkness and limitations of humanity. This Sunday we focus on the blessings already being poured out upon us, even as we wait for the Christ. So, it’s not preparation so much as it is about recognizing the active presence of Christ, the Light, and rejoicing in His generosity.
In the Opening Prayer for this Sunday’s Mass we say:
“enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always.”
We are praying to reach the joy of union with Christ. But we will not reach or grasp that joy if we do not first recognize the presence of Christ with us, here and now. The Baptist issues this warning: “there is one among you whom you do not recognize.” And even if you and I know about Jesus Christ, we can still fail to recognize him in our lives.
So, it is time for you and I to start looking for and seeing Jesus all around us, within others and even within ourselves, and to celebrate that divine presence. There are all sorts of heart-warming stories which surround the celebration of Christmas. One that never loses it power for me is O’Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi,” about the poor husband and wife wanting to do something special for each other at Christmas. But, I see the same presence of Christ in family and friends who go out of their way for me. And I feel Christ compelling me to greater thoughtfulness and generosity at this time as well. It’s a spiritual strength to put others ahead of myself and experience real joy in my life.
The reality is that in spite of all sorts of things that can seem to shroud us in darkness at this time, there is Light all around us as well. Making the effort to see the light and share the light is essential to our salvation, as the Opening Prayer says, and to make this Christmas just as powerful in our lives and in our world as any other Christmas of the past.
This Sunday we are told, actually we are commanded, to rejoice! Well, by our efforts to recognize Christ and share Christ with others we will find reason to rejoice and give the people around us reason to rejoice as well. Christ is near. He is as near as my heart and your heart, waiting to show the world all the love of God which transforms us and ultimately defeats all the darkness. Watch, see, share! Experience, celebrate, be transformed! Nothing is so beautiful as the Light of Christ already shining and bringing you, me, and our world the joy of God’s gracious love.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.