Sunday, Dec. 15 is the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday.
Isaiah 35:1-6, 10; Psalm 146:6-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
This Sunday is Guadete Sunday, and the Church focuses on the joy of the anticipation of Christ, from the rose-colored candle and vestments to the words of the Mass introit, “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say rejoice!”
The Old Testament readings use powerful language to express the unrestrained joy the Messiah will bring: “Then will the lame leap like a stag; then the tongue of the mute will sing.” The Gospel shows these words to be fulfilled: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: The blind regain their sight; the lame walk; lepers are cleansed; the deaf hear …”
The joy is infectious today. As it should be. Pope Francis has just promulgated Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), an apostolic exhortation that is all about joy.
The Pope is anxious for us to experience the joy in Christ that he has experienced. He opens the document with some basic advice on how to receive the great joy we see in today’s readings.
1. Pray! Talking to Christ brings joy.
“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.”
2. Repent! His mercy brings joy.
“Now is the time to say to Jesus: ‘Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways, I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord; take me once more into your redeeming embrace.’ How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.”
3. Live simply. Being wrapped up in consumerism brings anxiety and sadness; being poor in spirit brings joy.
“The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it and end up resentful, angry and listless.”
4. Your new joy should make you a natural evangelizer.
“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this exhortation, I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy.”
Tom and April Hoopes write from
Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is
writer in residence at