3rd Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 17, 2017

1st Reading: Is. 61:1–2,10–11

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God;
I will rejoice heartily in the LORD,
my being exults in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
and wrapped me in a robe of justice,
Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its shoots,
and a garden makes its seeds spring up,
So will the Lord GOD make justice spring up,
and praise before all the nations.

2nd Reading: 1 Th. 5:16–24

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace Himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The One who calls you is faithful, and He will also accomplish it.

Gospel: Jn. 1:6–8,19–28

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites [to him] to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, Make straight the way of the Lord” as Isaiah the prophet said.

Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

In Other Words Fr. Edwin Fernandez, SVD (DWC, Vigan, Ilocos Sur)

On Gaudete Sunday, we are called to rejoice—to have an inner, deeper joy that is born out of faith, hope, and love.

First of all, our rejoicing has to be founded on our experience of God’s unwavering and unfailing love, a God who sustains our hopes and fulfills His promises. To keep our joy alive, St. Paul reminds us to pray and be thankful always. Fr. Alphonse Mildner, SVD, repeatedly told the novices, “More prayer, more grace. Less prayer, less grace. No prayer, no grace.” Constant prayer makes us discover and understand better the nature of joy which entails endless gratitude that St. Paul speaks of. St. Arnold Janssen has taught us to be grateful to God who loves those who are grateful even in the midst of their suffering. Such people with their total and unshakable faith in God possess a joy that nothing in this world can seize. No matter how gravely pain may weigh us down, if we persistently hold on to the Lord, we really have built our lives on solid rock. Knowing the Lord’s presence in us gives us true and lasting joy. On the other hand, we may have all the riches and comforts of this world, but if we do not believe, hope in, and love the Lord, the treasures and pleasures we arrogantly boast of will turn into humbling sadness.

The first reading, from Isaiah, manifests how the Lord makes his people sing, dance, shot, and jump for joy. Through his servants the prophets, and above all, through His Son Jesus Christ, God fills the poor with joy by bringing them good news, the brokenhearted by healing them, the captives by announcing their release, the prisoners by giving them freedom, those who mourn by comforting them, and all people by His saving acts. We rejoice in the Lord’s continuous goodness to his beloved people.

As we do so, may we show our gratitude to Him by manifesting His love and goodness to others. As God’s people, may it be our ministry to bring joy to those we encounter. St. Francis of Assisi would pray, “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.” Let us be bearers of good news, instruments of healing, liberation and freedom. Let our presence be a comfort to those in mourning. Let us bring joy through our humble service, like John the Baptist who openly admitted that he was not the Messiah—not the Light, but came to testify to the Light. We too are not the Messiah; however, we have the responsibility to testify to His presence in the world, to make straight His way through our personal conversion and efforts to transform for the better the reality around us. Like John the Baptist, may our great joy be that of pointing to Jesus and bringing people to Him who is the Source of true and everlasting joy.

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word