Sunday, December 14, 2008

Third Sunday of Advent

Dear All,

This Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday which means joy.  The joy of the Church today is in the coming of Jesus – once and every day – to bring us peace and joy and gladness and love.  Someone said, "Life is too serious to take seriously."  This seems like a strange saying, but it sums up the message of today’s Gaudete - the Rejoice Sunday.  The Apostle Paul says to not take seriously the disappointments of life - instead, to "rejoice always."  We Christians have the choice to rejoice even when things go bad because we can see the true point of human existence.   Let us look at a birthday party when the person blows on the candle, it goes out - but then the flame suddenly pops up again.  Our lives are like that.  Death appears to end one's life, but we will immediately re-appear before God. You cannot extinguish a human soul.  We are destined to live forever.  In comparison to eternity, this life is like the blink of an eye.  The Apostle Paul suffered horrible things during his life: hunger, disease, poverty, sleepless nights, betrayal, shipwreck, scourging, imprisonment - even snakebite.  You name it, St. Paul suffered it.  Yet he said, "Rejoice always."  He knew that life no matter how full of pain and disappointments should not be taken too seriously, when seen from the dimension of eternity.

The First Reading from Isaiah, who escorts us through all of Advent into Christmas, encourages the Israelites after the Babylon captivity, and us today, with glad tidings to heal the brokenhearted.  God has clothed the prophet in a robe of salvation producing joy to his soul.

We have in today’s Gospel according to John (the Evangelist) an interesting interrogation. The Priests and Levites came out from Jerusalem to find out who this John (the Baptist) was, and whether he was the Messiah.  The detailed account of the interrogation indicates that John the Evangelist probably was present.  Why else would John the Baptist say:  ‘There stands among you, unknown to you, the one who is coming after me’?   This notion gets reinforced a few verses beyond today’s reading, when John the Baptist points out Jesus to him and Andrew.  The Priests and Levites ask John three questions: ‘Are you the Christ?’ ‘… Elijah?’ ‘…  the prophet?’   John answered these three questions quite honestly by saying no to them all.  The first and the last were really the same question since the Christ and the Prophet were words used interchangeably for the Messiah.  Then they ask a fourth: ‘If you are not the Christ, or Elijah or the Prophet then why are you baptizing?’  John does not directly answer but makes a declaration that the Messiah is already here and he says with visible irony, ‘he is standing among you.’  Jesus stands among us, just as he stood unrecognized among those Priests and Levites.  He is there as a hidden presence.  Not threatening, not judging, not spying on us or interfering; but just there cool, calm, patient, content to let things take their course.  Be aware of His hidden presence, it will help us to find a common meaning and purpose in our life.  John the Baptist tells the Religious of his time: "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord”.  "I baptize with water; but there is one… coming after me,… that will baptize with the Holy Spirit”.  John guides us in Advent to look to Christ alone to take away our sins and to open heaven for us when he comes again in glory.  Advent is a special time for open-hearted prayer of hope for the gift of recognizing God's coming among us.  If today you should hear his voice, harden not your heart.  Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.

Let us take into our hearts the words of Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians, today’s second reading, and let it be our prayer for each other, ‘May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body’. 

A complete text of the readings at:

With God’s Love and Blessings,


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