“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” That is the appropriate antiphon for the beginning of this mass. Today is Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” is Latin, it means: “Rejoice.”
We are to rejoice today. Hence on the Third Sunday of Advent, priests do not vest in the deep and heavy violet of penance and solemnity, but rather in the light and hopeful rose of joy.
It signifies the joy that is coming at Christmas but not yet here.
We may very well ask “with all that is painful, corrupt, and evil in the world, why should I rejoice?”
Take a look at St. John the Baptist this week. Though he is still the central Advent character, he is no longer the strong figure calling all to repentance in the desert. Now he is a lonely figure sitting in dark, stone prison.
Though John has always been truly free, that is, liberated by the truth, he needs one final word that will confirm his convictions. He sent his disciples, who had visited him in prison, to ask Jesus if he is indeed THE ONE. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Cf. Mt 11:2-11) Isn’t that the question right there?
Do we in our lives sometimes think, or feel, that we need yet another confirmation of our faith? Haven’t we, in one way or another, asked “Lord, are you really the Lord? Is living my faith really worth it, or is there something, or someone else I should be looking for?”
Jesus’ reply: “Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.”
We heard those same words in the first reading. Isaiah wrote, long before the time the Christ, that this is how we will recognize the One, when he comes. This is what the coming of the Messiah will look like. Our responsorial Psalm too, paints this portrait of the Messiah when he appears.” (Psalm 146:8) And now it is happening!
John has been the patient farmer of the second reading “See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:7-10)
All of John’s preaching, his baptizing, his faith, and now his impending martyrdom are vindicated, because this is for real, the Messiah has come! No wonder this is Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of Advent marked with the joy of expectation. Our God is coming. As that Christmas song tells us – “He will bring us goodness and light, He will bring us goodness and light.”
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona
Speaking of Christmas, Mark Your Calendars, here is the Christmas Schedule!
Saturday, December 24th, Christmas Eve:
4:00 pm - St. Paul, New Lisbon
6:00 pm - St. James, Camp Douglas
8:00 pm - St. Michaels, Indian Creek
December 25th, Christmas Day:
9:00 am - St. Paul, New Lisbon