THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
”We need to acknowledge jubilantly that our life is essentially a gift, and recognize that our freedom is a grace. This is not easy today, in a world that thinks it can keep something for itself, the fruits of it's own creativity or freedom.”
As we prepare ourselves to meet the birth of Christ, we are already in the midway of Advent. In this GAUDATE SUNDAY, which simply means REJOICING SUNDAY, we are full of joy for the closeness of the birth of Christ. The gladness radiating from our hearts can not be quantified, because the assurance for our redemption is guaranteed. The anticipatory expectations of the Savior’s coming are almost few days away. Hopes sustained: dreams and wishes close to reality and fulfillment.
This joyful feeling reminds me of my first ever experience in driving in the winter last year (January, 2018). As part of my pastoral responsibility I had to visit a sick parishioner in Red Cliff, WI, to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, when the snowfall was heavy.
As an African, driving in snow for the first time is a new ”Driving Test!” Just oblivious of the intricacies and the dangers involved, I naively drove my car through her driveway and my car sunk into the built-up snow with my wheels continuously spinning. I applied all my driving skills to get myself out, but I even ended up worsening the situation. I was completely stuck in the snow, so deep! I was really cold.
In fact, my heart was frightened, I was helpless and in dire need of assistance. Just hoping against hope. I nearly shed tears because I didn't actually know what to do next. For half an an hour I was in a state of despair and frustration!
Then, from nowhere, I heard a stranger’s voice shouting, “Can I help you?” Without wasting much time and not even sure of who that person was, I also screamed back, “Yes! Please don’t go!”
This Good Samaritan came to apply all his skills, but to no avail. He finally used a chain to pull my car from the snow with his truck onto the main road. Then, I heaved a big sigh of relief. I began to smile, I was overjoyed and happy... finally I had been rescued. It was a REJOICING moment for me. I thanked him, he smiled back.
Have you ever had such an experience in your life like that before, and finally someone helped you out? Mine was Snow Experience! What is yours?
It’s the same scenario that the Israelites found themselves in the first reading, in exile in Babylon for sixty years, until God came to their rescue to redeem them and set them free from servitude. Isaiah prophesied, “Do not let your hearts be frightened; be strong, do not fear... your vindicator is just close...” This was a joyous moment for them.
Humanity has been enslaved by their sinful consequences. This has led us into servitude. The guilt in our conscience has become a nightmare that keeps on frightening us. So the assurance of the coming of Jesus Christ must gladden our hearts: because he comes with reconciliation, mercy, love and peace. Indeed, we rejoice!
Apostle James in the second reading encourages us to be patient in every situation in life. In your destitute situation, be careful of your decision, words, actions, thoughts and sentiments. Just exercise patience and wait on the Lord, for the Lord’s time is the best. Patience pays, absolute patience pays absolutely!
Finally, our gospel reading speaks about John the Baptist, who heralds the coming of the Christ. He prepares the way for him.
As Christians our commitment to prayer, penance and sacrifice are means of preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ to be ready for His birth on Christmas day. We do this rejoicing because God’s promise is nearing fulfillment.
Be ready! Just rejoice!
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.