“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice! Indeed, the Lord is near!” These words, taken from the Entrance Antiphon for the Third Sunday of Advent, remind us that our celebration today is full of joy. We are halfway through our Advent observance, and our celebration of the Lord’s birth is drawing near.
This Sunday is commonly referred to as Gaudete Sunday, Gaudete being the Latin word for Rejoice. As we light the rose coloured candle on the Advent Wreath, the Priest can also choose to wear rose coloured vestments, as a sign of the joy that we celebrate on this Sunday.
Our first reading today beautifully expresses this theme of joy, as it speaks of the entire earth bursting into bloom as they see the glory of the Lord. This reading also reminds us that we are not to fear the presence of God, because he comes to save us. We are reminded at the end of the reading that those whom the Lord has saved will dwell in the everlasting joy of Zion, which is the Kingdom of Heaven.
We are all called to proclaim this message of salvation to the world, just as John the Baptist did. However, we can sometimes experience doubts in our journey of faith. That’s exactly what happens to John the Baptist in today’s Gospel. John, in prison because of his preaching, begins to wonder: “Is Jesus really who he says he is? Did I do the right thing with my life, or was it all for nothing?” Jesus’ answer to John recalls the first reading, reminding him of the joy that is a sure sign of the reign of God.
Even today, the message is still the same. When we have doubts about our faith, or we struggle with difficulties in our lives, we are called to look for the little signs of joy that are present around us. These small moments of joy are signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God, and can help inspire us to remain steadfast in our hope, even in the midst of difficulty. As we await Jesus’ second coming in glory, we wait in patient hope for his coming, and we make our hearts firm in patience, just as St. James instructs us to do in the second reading. May the guidance of the Holy Spirit help us to stand firm in our resolve to await the day of the Lord with patient endurance.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB