Theme: REJOICE! THE LORD IS NEAR!
- Isaiah 61:1-2. 10-11;
- Lk 1:46-50. 53-54. R.
- Is 61:10;
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
- John 1:6-8. 19-28
1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming, that is, the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery, and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe!
Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we are sure Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe! Advent is a time when we remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!
Today is also “rejoice” or joyful Sunday! Today we celebrate joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Christmas! Christmas is very near! The Lord is very near! The pink/rose candle on the Advent wreath and the pink/rose vestment of the priest symbolize joy!
2. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has brought us salvation. He has brought us “saving justice” (NJB) and praise. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has come to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison, and to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord, that is, a year of salvation from the Lord! Thus we read in the first reading:
“I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in a cloak of saving justice, …. So Lord Yahweh makes saving justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.” (Is 61:10-11/NJB)
Again we read in the first reading: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.” (Is 61:1-2/SM)
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. In fact the response of the responsorial psalm is taken from the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “My soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10)
The responsorial psalm itself is taken from the canticle of Mary (Magnificat), but originally it was a song of praise of the “poor” of Yahweh, the “anawim” of Yahweh! The poor of Yahweh are the humble who are totally dependent on Yahweh for salvation! Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:
“My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. He looks on his servant in her nothingness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed. The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy his name! His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty. He protects Israel, his servant, remembering his mercy.” (Lk 1:46-50. 53-54)
4. Again, the second reading begins with the theme of joy! The second reading tells us to be happy always, to pray always, and to give thanks to God for all things, because that is what God wants us to do in Jesus Christ! The second reading also tells us that God will make us perfect and holy and blameless in body, soul and spirit for the second coming of Jesus Christ. For God has called us. He will not fail us. Thus we read in the second reading:
“Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus. …. May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.” (1 Th 5:16-18. 23-24)
5. Finally, the gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is much greater even than John the Baptist. John the Baptist is not worthy even to undo His sandal-strap. John the Baptist baptized with water but Jesus Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit! (Jn 1:33) Thus we read in the gospel today:
“So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.’ …. John replied, ‘I baptize with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’” (John 1:23. 26-27)
6. Again, to remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time, we have to pray, to read the Bible, to read the Sunday Mass readings, to attend Sunday Mass, to attend BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, to attend prayer meetings, to repent, to go to confession, to go caroling, to proclaim the good news, to love, to serve, to forgive, to make others happy, etc. We have also to be Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) to the poor, the needy, the aged, the foreigner, the orphan, those in prison, etc.
7. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, and the Holy Spirit will help us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! Amen.