Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT: REJOICE IN THE LORD!

Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

REJOICE! REJOICE! The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word, which means "rejoice." The message of rejoicing echoes in our readings. In the first reading Isaiah sees the restoration of all Israel, of which many of them were exiled. And now they will be coming back to their homelands enjoying full security from Yahweh. Yahweh’s promises will be fulfilled. It is a year of favour where the spirit of God is given, glad tidings is proclaimed to the lowly, prisoners are released, God’s justice is used to repair the injured and comfort is felt.

St. Paul expresses his joy by inviting the early Christian community in Thessalonica to always rejoice! Paul gives exhortations to them “pray incessantly, in all circumstances give thanks.” This goes with the prayer to be entirely holy and to stay in God’s blessings. Paul understood that joy is the fruit of the spirit. It only comes from an inspiration from God. God who is always faithful to us will surely grant us the joy that we need.

It is just timely as we prepare for Christmas that the theme of joy is reminded of us. As we look around, there is hardly any joy with what the world is going through. Almost no happiness is felt when people starts to worry for their future.  Many Jobs all around the world are lost. Financial uncertainty seems to be the cause of worry for many as the world experiences an economic turmoil. One could barely call their Christmas merry with all the hassles they are experiencing. We also look at the state of the family. For many Filipinos this would mean spending Christmas away from their loved ones. As more and more Filipino parents go overseas to search for better opportunities, many more children would be left behind. The families would experience separation and the loneliness and sadness that go with it. The longing to spend the precious times during the beautiful season of Christmas is lost.

Jesus promises us, that Joy is a fruit from the Holy Spirit. It is given to those who are blessed, even those who are not worthy of it. The feeling of great happiness truly comes from Jesus himself. If we look around us again, we can be happy too. Great joy is felt when we hear a child’s laughter. Great joy is felt when we are given the good news that a new baby is coming to the family. Great joy is felt in finding mercy and forgiveness. Great joy is felt in knowing that the poor are alleviated from their suffering. Great joy is felt when people console us in our sadness and sorrow. Great joy is felt when we learn that we are healed from serious sickness. Great joy is felt when we realize that we are really loved and cared. Many occasions of Joy is there as a blessing for us.

We take pleasure, delight, and happiness in many ways. John the Baptist in the Gospel was very much delighted in preaching and testifying that the Messiah has come. As a witness John happily shared to us what it takes to be very happy, to be humble. The ability to bow down in humility is displayed before us as John rightly admitted that he was only “the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord.’ The sure thing is, learning and living out humility can make us open to the fruits of the Holy Spirit. In prayer, humility teaches us to long for God, who gives us the interior enlightening to know His Word and the strength to follow it faithfully. Humility is joy.

Advent is always a time for preparation. We take St. Paul’s words to pray incessantly. We pray that our preparations make us have a deep longing for Jesus. Jesus is the true cause of all our Christmas observance. We pray also for those who have been lost, may they find their way back to Jesus. We pray for families who may for years never had true joy in their homes, may Jesus the Light bring back happiness in their homes. We pray for those who cannot afford to smile, may they be beaming in learning that all of their problems has an end.  Jesus we pray to you, please make us rejoice, make our Christmas meaningful and may a year of favour be gifted to us. Amen.

                                  [Fr RUBEN ELAGO MSP
                                         Auckland, New Zealand]

 


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