Advent Week Three - Cycle C

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Advent Week Three - Cycle C

Gaudete Sunday

Introduction

This week marks the half-way point of our Advent journey. It is a good time to recall the dual focus of this season: the promise of a Savior being fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ and the preparation for Christ’s return at the end of time. Wendy Wright, theologian and professor at Creighton University, in her book, The Vigil, highlights the distinctive nature of the rejoicing on this Third Sunday in Advent and helps draw our attention once again to Christ’s birth and to his return:

Advent is not only a time of promise and preparation; it is a time to rejoice. The rejoicing we do is in great part a celebration of the initial fulfillment of the promise made; it is a living into the unspeakable mystery that has already occurred and which is at the heart of the season. The mystery is this: that God is born. Not only does this mystery speak to us of the inexpressible compassion of our God who has entered intimately into history in order to participate fully in all that is most human, but it recalls for us that creation itself, especially the human person, has become the sacred locus of the encounter of the finite and the infinite. (The Vigil, p. 49)

Divider ReflectionWe may tend to think that rejoicing needs to be loud but the rejoicing in today’s liturgy is a more interior, centered rejoicing; rejoicing that is deep within our hearts.

The first reading assures us that God has removed judgement against us, we have no misfortune to fear, and we are not to be discouraged. Zephaniah tells us, “The Lord, your God is in your midst, a mighty Savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.” (Zephaniah 3: 17-18a)

The Psalm Response reinforces this, “Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12: 6)

Saint Paul urges us to express our joy in deeds to deepen joy within our very selves, “Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all…”

And in the Gospel, John the Baptist responds to the question, “What should we do?” by telling the crowds to share clothing and food, not to cheat or falsely accuse others and to be satisfied with what we have because  “…one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.”

This transition in Advent is intentional. It is beckons us to restore our hearts with the interior peace that enables us to let go of anxiety and sadness and to be open to receive and share the joy and hope which Christ’s presence bestows. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

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