The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday! The theme of the liturgy is Christian joy.
In the first reading Isaiah reminds us that the coming of the Anointed of the Lord, the Messiah is going to bring good things and will be a cause for rejoicing. He will bring good news for the poor, healing to the sad and grieving, freedom to those imprisoned and enslaved by sin, a time of mercy and being cleared from blame for past faults. The Magnificat sung by Our Lady at the Visitation speaks of these blessings.
St Paul in the second reading teaches that we should always be joyful, when things go well and when things don’t go well. Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, who works in our hearts. The only thing that can take it away is sin.
In the Gospel, St John the Baptist tells the Priests, Levites and Pharisees that he is not the Messiah; but that the Messiah has arrived and he is heralding Him. At this stage Jesus has not yet commenced His public ministry. During these days of Advent preparation, we are preparing the house of our soul to receive the Lord.
Why do you keep your door open on such a cold day?
This reminds me of a story. A Priest was praying his Breviary on the small porch of his mission home in India. A passing Indian, who was not a Christian, stopped to talk to him. During the conversation a holy card dropped from the Priests prayer book. The visitor picked it up, looked at it and asked what it meant. It was Holman Hunt’s picture of Christ, who was standing outside a closed door and gently knocking. The Priest explained that this was Jesus, the Lord of the world and that He was waiting for someone to open the door from the inside, so He could enter. There was no knob on the outside of the door. Briefly the Priest explained that Christ does not force Himself upon anyone, but waits for the individual to open the door willingly to Him.
A few months later at the beginning of the winter season, the Priest was travelling to one of the mission Churches. It was a cold, snowy day with the wind was blowing a strong gale. As he passed by a certain hut, he noticed the door standing wide open. He thought this was strange and that maybe someone in the house was in need or in distress. He went over to investigate. It was the home of the man who had seen the picture of Christ. Why do you keep your door open on such a cold day, the Priest asked. It is very cold, replied the man, but I thought that maybe your Jesus would go by and I want Him to find the door open!
Having the right expectations in our relationship with God, means always keeping the door of our hearts open to His grace, always being ready to do whatever He asks, even when it is difficult or uncomfortable.
Joy is to possess Jesus, unhappiness is to lose Him. The happiness that the world offers is a transitory thing, but Christian happiness is profound.
There are three ways that we can stay spiritual. 1. Try and give spiritual and meaningful gifts this Christmas. 2. The gift we should most look forward to is the gift of Divine Grace. 3. Make a new commitment to prayer and service and ensure that you go to Confession before Christmas Mass.
Finally, let’s look to Our Lady, who is always a model of joy despite all the hardships she endured. Let’s also invite others to come to Mass this Christmas and let’s try to bring Christian joy and happiness to all around us. As the old saying goes: Faith is caught, not taught. Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!