3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Responsorial – Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54 (Isaiah 61:10b)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
December 13, 2020
The time for the long-awaited messiah is near. To prepare the way of the Lord, “John was sent from God.” John came to give testimony, “to testify to the light.”
His testimony is to help the people know Jesus. John’s mission is not about himself for “he was not the light.” John only spoke the truth, freely admitting, “I am not the Christ.”
He does identify himself (from Isaiah) as “the voice crying out in the desert. ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.” He also freely admits that he is not even worthy to untie the sandals of Jesus.
Thinking of our own worthiness, we come today continuing our season of Advent. Advent is a special time to prepare ourselves for the Second Coming. This is a penitential time, a time to reflect on our sins. The liturgical color for Advent is violent.
Thinking about our sins may make us feel down. Upon returning to Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile, the Israelites were feeling down because they found the Temple and Jerusalem in ruins.
It is in the midst of that, with “the spirit of the Lord GOD” was upon him that Isaiah was sent to “bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.”
In the midst of their sorrow, Isaiah gave the Israelites reason to rejoice. Isaiah himself rejoiced heartily in the Lord knowing, “in my God is the joy of my soul.”
We might struggle in sorrow and suffering but we can rejoice!
In the midst of this penitential season of Advent, today is Gaudete Sunday. I said before that the liturgical color for Advent is violent. However, obviously I am wearing rose. Rose is the color for Gaudete Sunday. It is a color of warmth. It is a color of rejoicing!
Gaudete means to rejoice. We find the word “rejoice” in both our first and second reading today as well as in our responsorial.
How can we rejoice in a penitential time? Our sins are bad but we rejoice because Jesus came and died for our sins to make eternal life in Heaven possible for us.
How can we rejoice when we experience difficulties in our lives? Look at Mary. Our responsorial today (normally from a psalm) comes from Luke’s Gospel. Mary is pregnant. She could fear how she will be treated for getting pregnant before getting married. She doesn’t. She knows this is by the power of God. She trusts God. She knows God is with her.
Mary cries out, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” She knows God is with her.
In Mary’s trust, she gives testimony to what God does for her.
Do we give testimony to who God is? Do we give good testimony to who God is?
Our response to what we experience in this world gives testimony to God. If our response shows faith in God, we give “good” testimony.
It isn’t always easy. We struggle. We get discouraged. At least I know I do. I ask for God’s help to help me see past the discouraging things so that I can live in hope of what is to come. This leads to rejoicing.
Paul calls us to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks.”
God is always with us, even when things seem difficult. When we can see past the sufferings, we can see the ways God has blessed us and we can be thankful. We can rejoice.
This can change the way we look at things. It changes our perspective.
For instance, in this time of the Coronavirus, we can lament having to wear face masks and social distancing. I don’t like either. However, I see a positive in them. At times I feel powerless to do anything about the virus. However, I see face masks and social distancing as something I can do to make the situation “better.”
You see my concern in the Coronavirus is not getting it myself. My concern is in giving it to someone else. I look forward to the day when we don’t have to wear face masks and social distance. For now, I’m glad that there is something I can do to help.
Let us ask the Lord to trust in hope so that we may live with gratitude even in the midst of suffering. In doing so, we can rejoice!