Rejoice, For the Lord Comes Soon!
Readings:1st: Is 35:1-6; Ps: 145:6-10; 2nd: James 5:7-10; Gos: Mt 11:2-11
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at:
Today is Gaudete Sunday. On this third Sunday of Advent, the Holy Mother Church invites us to a brief moment of joy and refreshment. The Church says to us today: “Gaudete in Domino Semper” (Rejoice in the Lord always, Phil 4, 4). The term Gaudete means to rejoice! The liturgical color for this Sunday is rose. This is a symbol of a joyful mood.
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Therefore, Gaudete Sunday is a time in our Advent journey when we must brighten our mood with a smile of joy. Yes, we are called to rejoice this Sunday because we are getting close to the fulfillment of God’s promise! Gaudete Sunday is a moment of spiritual refreshment in our journey this Advent.
In the first reading of this Sunday, the prophet Isaiah exalts us to be joyful because God is coming to save us, his people. He says to us: “Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming.” Being a generous God, our God will come with many gifts. He is the “real Father Christmas par excellence.” Hence, the prophet gives us an idea of what the Lord will bring and do when he comes: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, and those the Lord has ransomed shall return.”
Most important is the joy that will accompany the Lord’s coming. Therefore, the joy that fills our hearts today is only a foretaste of what we shall experience when the Word is finally made flesh, and the fullness of God’s mystery and glory is revealed. So, the strength we need to complete our journey this season comes from the joy of this beautiful Sunday.
In the second reading, James encourages us: “Be patient, brothers, until the Lord comes. Do not lose heart because the Lord’s coming will be soon!” In our journey of hope this season, patience is a crucial word. These two (patience and hope) work together to produce the joy which keeps us moving.
Therefore, as we prepare for the Lord’s coming, let us ask God to grant us the patience we need for the rest of the journey. We must assure ourselves, like an athlete, that we can do it and that we shall get there. With patience and hope, we will meet our Lord Jesus Christ, whose coming will bring us joy.
In today’s gospel, Jesus’ work and actions were so unique that they elicited a joyful response from the people. He fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah to the extent that even John the Baptist heard of him from his prison. If we sincerely receive Christ into our lives when he comes, he shall fulfill our expectations by making us see again, walk again in righteousness, and hear and pay attention to his words. Therefore, this calls for joy.
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So, this Sunday, the church allows us to glimpse the kingdom’s joy. Therefore, let us rejoice and be refreshed while mindful of the rest of the journey ahead. The church says to us today, as Nehemiah once said to his people: “Go and enjoy choice food sweet drink…this day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8, 10).
Peace be with you!