“What Isaiah could only long for has now become our reality.”
Gaudete Sunday is my favorite Sunday. Growing up, I loved lighting the rose candle in our Advent wreath, and it was usually the weekend we would decorate the house for Christmas. There is also the bonus of it being the Sunday closest to my birthday. Every year, it was easy for me to obey the Church’s command: “Rejoice!”
The Sunday gets its name from the entrance antiphon of the liturgy: “Gaudete in Domino semper…Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5) The readings of the Mass are full of joy and expectation, and the excitement for the coming of the Messiah becomes more tangible.
We live in joyful hope. Why? Not because this life is easy, nor because all suffering has been taken away from this earthly existence. Rather, we live in joyful hope knowing that the promises of the Old Testament have been fulfilled. A people who walked in darkness, who knew the writings of the prophets and longed for their fulfilment, who waited for the consolation of Israel… have seen a great light.
The readings at Mass this weekend are a reminder that we live in this joyful time of fulfilment:
- The first reading is the famous prophecy of Isaiah which Christ Himself proclaimed fulfilled in a synagogue in Nazareth. Do we live as if we share that anointing?
- The Responsorial Psalm chosen by the Church for this Gaudete Sunday compels us to share in Mary’s praise and joy, as we thank our God for not leaving his people orphan. Do we live in gratitude, as people saved?
- Paul commands us in the second reading to live with joy. We are not a people forgotten or abandoned. Do we live in the Spirit?
Perhaps we need to be shaken out of our complacency. Christians! There is joy is simply living anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi. Is this life hard? Sure. But not as hard as it would be without a Savior. I want to see a Christian people living in joy, grateful for their Messiah. Christians live differently, because our joy is a manifestation of our gratitude for promises fulfilled.
The Incarnation is the single most important event in human history. Life is different now! What Isaiah could only long for has now become our reality. Have we lost this? Do we manifest joy and hope? Can anyone tell we have a Messiah? That promises have been fulfilled? Do we “testify to the light”?
Our God has come to live with us! We have a Savior who is not deaf to our cries. These last few weeks of Advent, cultivate that gift of joy in your life. It doesn’t mean I’m waking up every morning singing. Nor does it mean I’m walking around with a fake smile plastered to my face or that I never have a bad day. It doesn’t even mean that I’m always cheerful. It certainly doesn’t mean we lack crosses in life.
I don’t have joy because my life is full of roses and butterflies and comfort. I have joy because I know the answer to the thorns and the crosses. The answer is Jesus Christ, and He has come to live with us. “The one who calls you is faithful… “for he has remembered his promise of mercy…”
Rejoice! The Lord is near.
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