Sunday Reflection: 3rd Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday), Cycle C
1st reading Zephaniah 3:14-18a
2nd Reading Philippians 4:4-7
Gospel Luke 3:10-18
The 3rd Sunday of Advent is a special day of rejoicing, hence the name Gaudete Sunday. This is a time for us to rejoice because the coming of the Lord is at hand. This Sunday, the readings are calling us to rejoice in the Lord. Advent is not just a time of expectation but a joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord.
In our 1st Reading, the Prophet Zephaniah calls out, “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem.” What a wonderful invitation in times when the people were experiencing many tragedies. Where does this joy come from? From where shall this flow? The Prophet says further, “The Lord has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no misfortune to fear.” The joy that will bring about rejoicing comes from the Lord who is in their midst. He has forgiven their sins and have vanquished their enemies for them.
True joy comes from the knowledge that God is with us. True joy flows from our acceptance and conviction that God is with us in our journey through life. The sorrows and pains of life gives meaning to our life when we are able to see God’s hand leading us through all these and keeping us close to His heart.
St. Paul is exhorting us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: rejoice!” What does rejoicing do to us? Rejoicing makes us more hopeful. We who are in the Lord are always full of hope. The command of St. Paul to rejoice in the Lord always, is a command to make God part of our lives. Rejoicing in the Lord means that in the midst of all the pain and sufferings of life, God is with us, and He strengthens us, gives us hope, and fills us with superabundant joy that comes from His love for us.
But we have to remember to do our part in this holy exchange. God offers us joy and salvation through Christ, but He also asks us to be one with Him, to be reconciled with Him, to amend our ways and go back to Him. In our journey this Advent, St. John is our guide towards authentic joy. He who was called by God to be His precursor, calls each one of us to the right way of reconciliation and repentance. Only through repentance and reconciliation that we can experience the beauty of joy and salvation. So, rejoicing in the Lord is our way of life. We will always find hope in God when everything seems to fail. So rejoice in the Lord always and in no one else.