Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice! That is our mantra for the Third Sunday which is also known as “Gaudete” or joyful Sunday. I love the symbolism of the rose vestments that might be worn at the liturgy, the blend of gold or white with the lavender of Advent. This signifies the halfway point in our Advent journey. Yes, our hearts do rejoice Our hearts rejoice at His expected coming, not so much the commemoration of Christmas but to be prepared for his second coming.
As is reflected in our first reading from Isaiah for this day; “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with a joyful song . . . . For they will see the glory of the Lord.” The joy breaks forth with song for God’s abundance and for us, our hearts are filled with expectant joy of anticipation. Advent reflects this attitude of great joy.
But Do we rejoice at the coming of the Lord? Or are these weeks before Christmas just filled with the busy-ness of things to get ready? We need to have our focus on His coming, not just as it is commemorated at Christmas but His coming again in Glory. But don’t we have a taste of this when we approach the altar of the Lord and receive the body and blood of Jesus? He comes to us! Will our own parched desert: the occasional aridity in prayer, strained relationships or the burdens of hardships, the weariness of our daily routines find refreshment in Jesus?
To weather these difficulties and to find peace and refreshment, we have to be patient: like the farmer who waits for the precious fruit of the earth or as John the Baptist waited his whole life for the Anointed One to come, John – who prepared the way for Jesus. Patience is not really my strong suit but I certainly find models to assist me on that journey.
We too await His coming but who or what prepares our way?
Jesus offers for us the example of John whose life of humility and penance shows us the Way. These days of Advent and the Scriptures that we share as a worshipping community will prepare our souls for his coming, to “make straight the path of the Lord,” so as we receive him in this life, we may enjoy him in Eternity.
And so, are invited to be alert and ready for the unknown such as quick changes in peoples’ attitudes or tolerance of others words & actions that conflict with our own. We can be ready by listening and affirming others’ good intentions and brave endeavors or believing in ourselves and those unexplored hidden treasures in ourselves & others (Stuhlmueller Biblical Meditations for Advent, p.146) If we assume these values and develop them in this season at that point they become gifts for a lifetime.
Now we really can Rejoice!
Sister Christine Bowman, O.S.F.