Homily for III (3) Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) Year B. 13-12-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
Psalm: Luke 1:46-50, 53-54
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28
Our prayer in the opening words of the introit of today beseech the Lord ‘to enable us attain the joys of our salvation and celebrate always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.’ This already immerses us into the liturgical sense and spirit of this third Sunday of Advent as Gaudete Sunday, when we are called to rejoice. Isaiah’s prophetic words in the first reading announcing the divine mission entrusted to him by the Lord to bring the good news to the poor, and to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favour also culminate in his rejoicing in the Lord for having being clothed in the garments of salvation. We too as a people of faith and hope are invited to rejoice today in the Lord. But why? We are rejoicing because our salvation is near at hand. It won’t be long anymore before the Lord comes to us, and in fact it means that the Lord is already here as Emmanuel – God with us. Therefore, it is not strange that even in our liturgical colours, our penitential violet is today mixed with the white of the approaching festival to give us the rose colour signaling that the Lord is near. So, let us rejoice and be glad in the Lord.
In the gospel we see John the Baptist who came as a witness to announce the coming of the Salvation of the world in Christ. Others thought that he was the light, but in humility he said he is not the light but simply a voice crying that we should make a straight way for the Lord. Why did he not simply announce but chose to cry instead? This is to demonstrate that the message he brings is a very important message that demands instant and utmost adherence because deadly consequences await whoever does not give heed to it. That cry is therefore a sign of mourning in advance for those who unfortunately would refuse to heed his warning. It was such an intense and important message because the Messiah had already come and was among His people but they did not recognize Him. That was why John replied, ‘I baptize with water; but there stands among you unknown to you, the one who is coming after me.’
Since Christ was already among them, how come they did not recognize His presence? It means they were not prepared for Him and were instead preoccupied with the affairs of the world and still living in their sins. What about you? Have you recognized that Christ is present in the world today? If you cannot recognize that He is Emmanuel, then it means you have not prepared for His coming and you are still living in your sins. When you are not ready for Him, He comes but because your life has no place to welcome Him, your heart is closed to Him and He remains locked out. And when He is locked out, you can never recognize His presence in your life and in your midst. Have you welcomed Christ into your life? Turn away from sin and open your heart and life to Him today. To be able to receive Him we must learn from St. Paul in the second reading how to be true Christians. St. Paul exhorts us to rejoice at all times and pray constantly. In his letter to the Galatians 5:22 he reminds us that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the same words ‘Rejoice, o highly favoured one.’ Being happy at all times is therefore a sign that one is full of the Holy Spirit and in constant communion with God. And this is the first characteristic of an evangelizer; bearing the good news he is happy always because of the nature of what he bears, and he radiates that joy in his ministry in the lives of all those who encounter him. By our baptism we are all evangelisers of the good news. It would therefore be a terrible contradiction for us then to carry the good news and look gloomy. No one would even believe it is good news let alone accept it. That is why the Holy Father Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (the joy of the gospel) no.1 says ‘the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.’ Our duty therefore is first and foremost to bring this joy of the Lord to the world. How can we then share this joy if we ourselves lack joy? Nemo dat quod non habet! God expects us to be happy in Jesus so that we can share this joy with others especially as we prepare for Christmas.
However, in life we pass through different experiences and these definitely condition how we feel too. Sometimes we are happy, at times we are sad. So how can we be happy even when passing through painful experiences? To remain happy at all times, we must pray always holding on to what is good and avoiding every form of evil. Because evil no matter how hidden, has a monumental collateral damage in our lives even when we do not see it. As such evil acts cannot give us lasting joy, only good deeds which are Godly can guarantee us an enduring joy. For ‘the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).’ God’s love for us making Him to send His Son Jesus to come and save us is a reason that when well contemplated, can give us joy even greater in our tribulations.
We too like the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist today have by our baptism been called and commissioned to go out and share the good news of salvation and joy to the world, and most especially to the poor. How faithful have we been to this mission? What experience do people have of us? Do we bring joy to their lives or pain, sadness or shame? We cannot faithfully do this if we do not have the love of God in our lives. For we can bring joy to people’s lives not just by preaching to them but by our charitable actions, because charity is the love of God in action towards our neighbour. As we prepare for the coming of our saviour who brought us the good news of joy and salvation, let us make it a point of duty to take pain out of the lives of each one we meet and give them joy in replacement. Let us ask the Lord to make us good heralds of His truth and grace so that we can always bring the joy of the Gospel to brighten the lives of all those whom we meet. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.