by: Rev. DJ Garcia, CJM
Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday, we are invited to “Rejoice”, to be filled with joy because the Lord’s coming is near and he is coming to save us.
The first reading reminds us of a beautiful promise from the prophet Isaiah — that when the God comes to save us, all the people will cry out with joy and gladness; even the earth itself will rejoice. Flowers will suddenly bloom even in the deserts. People who cannot speak will suddenly be singing a joyful song! And In the gospel, Jesus tells John’s disciples to “Tell John what you are hearing and seeing: the blind can see, the lame can walk,… the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life….” This is what the presence of Jesus brings: life and joy.
We are invited to be filled with joy. The joy that God wants to give to each one of us. The joy of Jesus, who is “God-with-us,”. God who has come to be with us in our humanity.
How can we rejoice in the midst of all our problems, our sufferings and disappointments? How can we rejoice with the injustice, hatred and violence around us?
Aware of these unpleasant realities, the Church in today’s liturgy, insists: “Rejoice, I say it again: Rejoice!” This is the message of one who believes that the entire universe is in the hands of an all-powerful and all-loving God. It is the faith from one who places his trust in a merciful God who will never abandon him. Such faith refuses to give in to discouragement and defeatism, and continues to believe in the light even in the darkest of nights.
This is the faith the Church places in Jesus, in which she continuously invites her members to do likewise. Concomitant to this faith is placing one’s hope in Jesus. We can hope in Jesus, because God is faithful and we can be certain that he always keeps his promises.
While we may put our happiness or even our joy in something or someone else and experience pleasure with these, we are reminded that Jesus is the source of real joy. He himself said that he came to bring us joy and that our joy may be full.
So, in this season of Advent, we need to renew our attention and focus it on Jesus, because he is the ONLY source of real joy.
As we focus on Jesus, St. Paul exhorts us to remain steadfast in our faith and to patiently endure our trials and sufferings in the hope that Jesus will console us and redeem us from all our sadness and pain. When we get impatient with God’s timing, let us be reminded that God is in control. With such hope, we can be joyful even amidst our difficulties. Hope and joy are intimately connected, for joy is rooted in hope, and thus, a hope-filled person can be a joyful person.
As we go on with our busy lives and in our own struggles, we can rejoice in knowing that Jesus is with us. That God is near. To keep trusting in God and live with the assurance that Jesus came to be with us — to be with us, to save us and to make our life a happy one. And this truth, we need to share with others, and why not also, to go out of ourselves to make life better for others. We can be God’s instruments in bringing hope and joy to one another. As we continue our preparation for Christmas, it is a wonderful time to share our happiness and joy by making life better for others. With little acts of kindness, we can make life more pleasant for those around us, and thus, be a source of hope and joy for our world.