Only the Repentant Rejoice

User's Guide to Sunday, Dec. 14

(photo: Register Files)

Sunday, Dec. 14, is the Third Sunday of Advent (Year B).


Mass Readings

Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11; “Psalm” Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28


Our Take

Today is Gaudete​ Sunday — “Rejoice” Sunday.  The liturgy tells us to rejoice. The readings tell us to rejoice. Advent is more than half over, so it is time to turn with joy to Christmas.

We can rejoice two weeks before Christmas because we know Christmas will come.

This is also the way it is with salvation history — the world’s and our own.

“The Lord has anointed me,” Isaiah says in today’s first reading, “to bring glad tidings to the poor; to heal the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners; to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.”

The Old Testament said what was going to happen — the Messiah was on his way to free his people — and the people rejoiced, because they knew it would happen.

Today’s Psalm is Mary’s magnificat from Luke. She sees that Christ is coming and says: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.” She is newly pregnant with Jesus but already celebrating his birth.

In our own personal “salvation history,” it should be the same way. As St. Paul says: “Rejoice always.”

The Church does give us one qualifier to all this rejoicing: St. John the Baptist in the Gospel. John gives the one critical necessity that allows us to rejoice. “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,” he says. “Make straight the way of the Lord.”

In calling us all to repentance and baptism, he is putting all this rejoicing in a very clear context: If we want to rejoice like Isaiah, Paul and Mary, we need to live like them.

We can rejoice today because we know that God’s love is coming. We can rejoice because we know our hope is certain. But we can only rejoice today in the degree to which we have repented and prepared for him to come, in prayer, penance and almsgiving.

Jesus Christ comes to our lives as certainly as Christmas does. And when he comes, all that will matter is how we have accepted and returned his love.


Tom and April Hoopes write from

Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is

writer at Benedictine College.