Today (December 12, 2021) we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, Year C. The normal liturgical color for Advent is violet (we often say purple). We use the color violent as a sign of penance, especially in Lent. Thinking of penance means thinking of our sins. That may depress us. Awareness of our sins should lead us to repentance and conversion. However, we do so with hope, not despair.
The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday. The word “gaudete” means “rejoice.” The color of the day is rose, a color of warmth and joy. Our readings today speak of rejoicing. The first reading comes from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah. He was a prophet in the 7th century BC when the Israelites were under threat from their enemy the Assyrians. Yet, they are called to “shout for joy…Be glad and exult.”
Why are they under threat from their enemies? Because they had not followed the Lord’s ways. The Lord has left them to face their enemies themselves. However, the LORD has removed his judgment from them and turned away their enemies. Thus, they have reason to rejoice!
There is reason for hope! Twice, the first reading tells us that the Lord is in their midst. They might have felt abandoned but they are reminded that the Lord is right there in their midst. Our responsorial today comes from the Book of the prophet Isaiah where we hear, “Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” The Lord is always in the midst of his people.
Paul tells the Philippians that “the Lord is near.” Yes, we can “Rejoice in the Lord always” for He is always near to us.
Sometimes it is hard to be aware of the Lord’s presence. We feel alone. At Christmas we celebrate the time of Jesus’ first coming. We rejoice with hope at the image of Jesus in the manger. We rejoice knowing that we have a God who knows what it is like to be human. We rejoice hearing the Truth that Jesus brings us. We rejoice knowing that Jesus came to give his life for us on the Cross so that our sins can be forgiven. Knowing this, we can look forward to the Second Coming with hope rather than fear.
Yes, we need to change from our sinful ways. John the Baptist told the crowds to share (love thy neighbor), the tax collectors to stop overcharging, and the soldiers to stop extorting. He told them to change. He did not tell them they were condemned. Jesus brings forgiveness and mercy.
We might feel stuck in bad times. The pandemic may have us down along with other bad things in the world. We might feel isolated in this time between the first coming of Jesus and his Second Coming in the future. However, we are not alone. “The Lord is near.” “The Lord, your God, is in your midst.“
We do not have to wait for the Second Coming for the Lord to be with us. The Lord is with us every day. It is what early Church writers called the “third coming.” The Lord wants to come into our hearts everyday. Rejoice!
Well said Father! Wonderful Homily!! I pray things are continuing to go well for you in your new parish!
We rejoice knowing that we have a God who knows what it is like to be human.
This is great, for some reason it never clicked like that before. Thank You.
We read the same readings and see the same thing over and over until the Holy Spirit gives us a new perspective.