Third Sunday of Advent – December 17, 2017
Is 61:1-2a, 10-11; Lk 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54; 1 Thes 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-8, 19-28
Are you ready for the coming of Jesus?
Today, we celebrate Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday – the Third Sunday of Advent. And this year, with Christmas on a Monday, it is the last week of Advent. So, our time of preparation, our time of waiting, is quickly coming to an end.
In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear “God being the joy of my soul.” In the Responsorial Psalm, we hear “my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” And in the second reading, it starts off with “Rejoice always.”
So, what does God, and the Church, want us to do this week? Are we supposed to be grumpy that we missed out on the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Free Shipping Friday sales? Are we to feel overwhelmed with the shopping and cleaning and cooking we think we need to get done this week? Are we to mope around because of our health or aches and pains or other problems? I think the answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!
As we hear in the gospel reading, John came to testify to the light. He is directing those asking him questions away from himself and points them to Jesus, who is among them, but they don’t recognize him.
Driving around in the evening or at night, it is hard not to notice all the Christmas lights. Hopefully seeing all those lights is putting a smile on your face. But, go one step further, don’t just enjoy the lights, but use theses lights to recognize Jesus presence around you. Just like the lights seem to be everywhere, recognize and acknowledge Jesus is also everywhere and rejoice in his presence, and his love for you.
Continuing in the gospel reading, we hear a little about John’s baptizing. Baptism was actually, fairly common among the Jewish people at the time of the gospels. But John’s baptism was distinctive, his baptism was a rite of repentance and metanoia – a conversion of heart and spirit.
All of us, at times, need to seek repentance, to help us fully rejoice in and with God, by experiencing our own metanoia – the conversion of our heart and spirit. This week, on Wednesday, we will have a communal penance service. If it has been more than 3 or 4 weeks since you last received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, come receive the gift God wants to give you, the graces from the sacrament, to experience the conversion, which will help you to be more joyful, this Christmas season. But even if you don’t come for the sacrament, come for the music of Taize prayer that we will have at the same time. Come and share in the joy of those receiving reconciliation, come and just rejoice as we spend our final week of advent, preparing for the coming of Jesus.
And most importantly, this last week of Advent, be joyful and have a joyful week. Be “the voice of the one crying out in the desert” by sharing the light of Christ in you, your joy, with everyone you encounter, simply by wearing and sharing, your smile.