3rd Sunday of Advent (B).
“MY SPIRIT REJOICES IN GOD MY SAVIOR.”
- Joy, the central theme of the 3rd Sunday of Advent.
- The requisites of the joy which arises in the soul as a result of its union with God.
Joy is the central theme which is characteristic and proper to the 3rd Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday. This joy is found precisely in and the result of the soul’s union with God as testified by today’s readings.
In the 1st reading (Is 61:1–2a, 10–11), the Prophet Isaiah exclaims:
“I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. As the earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.”
In the 2nd reading (1 Thes 5:16–24), St. Paul gives his advice:
“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.”
The Responsorial Psalm (Lk 1, 46-50. 53-54.) gathers the Blessed Virgin Mary’s song of praise to God:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
And the Gospel narrates to us St. John the Baptist’s testimony for the coming of the Messiah and invitation to “make straight the paths for the Lord!”
Aside from the clarity of the source of this profound joy found in the soul’s union with God and His saving power, today’s liturgy also points to us the requisites and consequences of this joy if one wants to maintain it.
- God brings joy to the humble: “for he has looked upon his lowly servant… The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.”
- This joy is maintained and increases through prayer, through good works, in sum, through works of holiness which presupposes the avoidance of sin: “May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Christian joy leads one to proclaim and share the Good News through one’s life testimony, for good is in itself contagious: “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.”
Dear brethren in Christ, let us put all the means in order to be reunited with God, and may we also give testimony of this profound Christian joy by inviting others to seek God’s reconciliation through the Sacrament of Confession and by our daily struggle to carry out works of holiness: prayer, sacraments and works of mercy.
“O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation, and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.” Opening prayer, Mass proper.