The key is to watch, wait and prepare. The coming of the Lord and the birth of Jesus are the central actions during this liturgical season.
Postmodern culture has generated a new sensitivity to those who are weaker and less empowered. This is connected with my insistence in the encyclical letter Fratelli tutti on the primacy of the human person and the defense of his dignity beyond all circumstances. It is another way of inviting multilateralism in order to solve the real problems of humanity, seeking above all to respect the dignity of people in such a way that ethics prevail over local or circumstantial conveniences. (No.39)
“National or international projects that damage the Amazon and do not respect the right of indigenous peoples to territory and its demarcation, to self-determination and to prior consent, should be given the names they deserve: injustice and crime. When some companies thirsty for easy profit appropriate territories and even privatize drinking water, or when the authorities give a free hand to logging companies, mining or oil projects and other activities that devastate the forests and pollute the environment, economic relations are unduly transformed and become an instrument that kills”. (Dear Amazonia-14)
The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday. It signifies our joy because Christmas is fast approaching. In response to Gabriel’s message, Mary looks beyond the complexity of her situation and boldly declares, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Although she feels great uncertainty, she is glad that God has chosen her for a special task. Like Mary, we should rejoice because there is always good around us, even in difficult times.
When many of the multinationals take over the lands of the poor in the name of development, they are forced to move to arid lands where they lack basic services and healthy living conditions. Having no land of their own to farm, they are also forced to work for others in very poor human conditions and at low wages. Those from the Philippines move to Europe and, as immigrants, face many trials and hardships, sometimes even to the point of losing their dignity and everything they own. The coming of the Messiah will bring hope to our women and to all the people, a hope that will give them joy and the desire to look forward to a better future for their children. Women have a more important role in the family to bring hope among all, especially trying to go ahead and raise their voices, even if for some reason they are not heard, they do not give up because they want our Blessed Mother to know what she is. necessary, and without giving up faith and hope, they strive to recover their land and their rights.
First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
In Jesus’ ministry, in particular, we see him doing the things listed here. Jesus “brings good news to the poor”, “heals the brokenhearted” and “proclaims freedom”. With Jesus, the Messiah, “righteousness and peace spring up before all nations,” for He opened the door for the proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles (i.e., “nations”). Thus, Jesus Himself fulfills these profound words of Isaiah. Isaiah rejoices for a jubilee year in which God heals and restores his people, restoring justice, fruitfulness and peace….
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Today’s second reading calls us to “be joyful always”. The joy we have in Christ can remain regardless of the challenges we face in life. This is because we know that God is in control of our circumstances. He is “faithful,” as Paul says. St. Paul is not telling Christians to rejoice in the hope of the coming of the Messiah, because Jesus had already come. It reminds us all of the joy that is an essential part of the Christian life. We must live in the joy of knowing that our Redeemer has come to save us and will come again. Joy, then, is part of being completely ready, “spirit, soul and body…preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28
Today we hear about the coming of John the Baptist and his announcement of the Messiah, Jesus. The “light” at the beginning of this passage refers to Jesus, the eternal Word of God. John’s role was to help the people be prepared for the Messiah. Jesus had grown up among the people but his true identity as the Messiah was not revealed until his baptism by John and his subsequent public ministry. John the Baptist undertook a long journey to come and bear witness to Jesus. The joy ride is not a walk in the park. It takes work to always be cheerful. John left everything, in his youth, to put God in first place, to listen to his Word with all his heart and strength. He is a model for all those in the Church who are called to proclaim Christ to others; they can only do this by detaching themselves from themselves and from worldliness, not by attracting people to themselves, but by directing them to Jesus.
As we move into the latter part of Advent, our challenge is how to point ourselves and others to Christ. Let us reflect and ask ourselves:
- On this Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, reflect on what you are thankful for. This week, write down the things in your life that make you rejoice. So, thank God for those blessings.
- Ultimately, true joy comes from following God’s will for our lives. Only in obedience to God, who knows what is best for us, will we find true fulfillment. In what areas of your life do you need to listen more closely to God and follow His will more fully? Take action today!
- What is my experience of the pure joy of knowing my Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ?