The Catholic Calendar for Sunday, December 11, 2005
Third Sunday of Advent
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
A reflection on today's Sacred Scripture:
This Third Sunday of Advent is sometimes called Gaudete Sunday because "Gaudete" is found in the old Latin "Introit" (the Entrance Antiphon), and it means "Rejoice!" The celebrant wears rose-colored vestments today if the parish is well-off enough to have them. We may wonder what we have to rejoice in, what with war, corruption, and natural disasters so evident this year.
Actually, we have plenty to rejoice in. In the first reading, the Church uses Chapter 61 of Isaiah, that passage about the Spirit of the Lord coming upon the prophet so that he may announce good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives. This is the very passage that Jesus read in the synagogue in Capharnaum, and the very words Jesus sent to John the Baptist when John, in prison, inquires of Jesus if he is the Messiah.
What a convergence of prophecy! In today's Gospel, we also read about the mission of John: to bear testimony to the light. So, we must reflect this Sunday on the meaning of those prophecies of Isaiah. They summarize, not only Jesus' mission, but our own mission as well. We need to ponder them well!
In the Second Reading, St. Paul not only tells us to rejoice, he gives us the secret of prolonging that joy, which is assured if we do not quench the Spirit: to pray always, and give thanks over and over again. No, do not protest! No, do not shirk from this behavior, because this is very clearly God's will for us all.
It is so easy to become negative, especially when so much "joy" seems artificial. It is so easy to quench the Spirit; but if we do, we fly in the face of the Divine plan for the world. There is only one way to keep our joy genuine, and that is to to pray without ceasing, and give thanks without interruption. There is simply no place for gloomy words or downcast appearance in a genuine Christ-follower.
No wonder the Church looks at the world, dressed in its rose-colored vestments today!
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
(smartins at frontiernet dot net)