Bro. Ryan Recto
The third week of Advent Season is referred to as Gaudete Sunday – Sunday of Joy! Our readings for today are covered with expressions of delight and triumph. The color of vestments
can be changed from purple, which signifies our penitential period for our preparation for the
huge celebration, to pink or old rose, which in turn signifies joy!
“Rejoice!” is the invitation from the first reading where God will exult over us. He will renew us by his love. Through the psalms, echoes our response: “Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” In the Second Reading, Paul addresses the Christians of Philippi: “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness…” But in the Gospel of Luke, joy is likely understated, and it tells us that “a feeling of hope had grown among the people…”
Joy is necessarily the basic disposition of all Christians. It is not temporary nor obligatory. Neither is it just the absence of physical or emotional pain. Joy is something that develops out naturally from Christ’s sharing of his love. Joy is a normal Christian experience. Unfortunately, not all Christians have that experience.
Some people believe that Christianity is a religion where its members have to give up many of the pleasures that are otherwise allowed among non-Christians. Such a viewpoint can lead to conclusion that Christianity is joyless and narrowly focused on pain and sacrifice! We need to be reminded, however, that the purpose of Jesus’ coming is to bring freedom, peace and joy to all of us. We are always invited to embrace true freedom with joy in our hearts. Everyday experiences are touched by God. God makes life more meaningful. Accepting this reality opens
oneself to inner joy and peace.
The Gospel of Luke tells us about the expected coming of the Messiah. John the Baptist proclaimed this at the river Jordan. He called the people to repentance and to a total change of
their behavior. People were touched and had begun responding by asking, “what must we do?”
There were different kinds of people the evangelist mentioned: the tax collectors, the soldiers,
and the people in general. Each of them was answered by John the Baptist according to their
lifestyle. He convinced the people to share their blessings and treat each other as brothers and
sisters. The tax collectors needed to be honest; and soldiers had to be content with their pay and treat people with respect. The change of heart must come from the recognition of God’s love and fidelity to his promise, gushing forth with joy and flowing into a realization that something must be done (read: Action – Mission). We are reminded that the joy that the Messiah’s coming brings should not be centered on the self but on the great love of God. True joy is shared through action!