Mosaici del battistero di firenze storie del battista predica nel deserto maestranze, ca. 1250-1330, fiorentine
3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
I baptize with water.
Among you stands one whom you do not know,
the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.
The third Sunday of Advent is called the joy of Sunday. It is reflected in the opening of the antiphon: Gaudete in Domino semper” – “Rejoice in the Lord always.” To celebrate the joy of Sunday, a rose candle is lit up, and the pink liturgical vestment is worn to remind and encourage the Christian that the joy must be the spirit of those who wait for the nativity of Jesus Christ.
The third advent affirms that joy is the Christian identity. The joy of Christianity is Jesus Christ who was born from the Virgin Mary. Why? The Nativity of Jesus Christ is the year of the Lord’s Favor which Isaiah prophesized. By his nativity, God became man. This incarnation showed that God is Immanuel which reveals that God is present in history, in the present, and in the future to accompany every life. The birth of Jesus Christ meant that God brings good news to the oppressed, God binds up the broken-hearted, God proclaims liberty to the captives, God releases the prisoner, God comforts all who mourn. Beforehand, we are the oppressed because of our sins, we are the broken-hearted because of the suffering, we are prisoners because of our egoism, and we are mourners because of sadness and injustice. Burdens, difficulties, life’s charges, and struggles make life barren. All of these moments put us in the desert where everything is hard because of the aridness. But, in the year of the Lord’s Favor, everything is changed, restored, and renewed concretely by the nativity of Jesus Christ. The despair becomes hope like the men build up the ancient ruins, the justice is put again in high like the men repair the ruined cities caused by injustice; hate is chased away and is replaced by love, and uncertainty is overturned by faith. The desert now is a garden because Christ brings forth its shoots and causes what is sown in it to spring up. Justice and salvation have come from the garden which was desert. It means that Christ has come to the world to save everything — which only he can communicate — and thereby to give joy. Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves. That is why the Christian will greatly rejoice in the LORD, their whole being shall exult in God.
What is joy? Being joyful is not merely a temporary emotion that is easily fickle. In Christ, joy is prayer, joy is strength, joy is love, and joy is the net of love (Mother Theresa). Joy finds its meaning in the lord. Therefore, the third Sunday of advents shouts Rejoice in the Lord always. The acclamation “Rejoice in the Lord always echoes through the spirit and in the core of our being. True joy comes from a loving heart so a joyful heart is the consequence of hope, love, and faith. Rejoice in the Lord always vibrates even if things do not go according to one wish. For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
But, how to be joyful in the Lord always? The answer is in Saint Paul’s letter to Thessalonians: pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. Joy is achieved first through prayer without ceasing. Here the joy comes from personal encounters with Jesus Christ. Joy derives from embracing Jesus Christ in the spirit of love and truth because the joy of Christianity is Christ himself. Prayer without ceasing means to unite every moment of one life to the light of Jesus Christ. When everything is united with Christ, inner peace will emerge from the heart even among everyday contradictions. Then a Christian’s joy is not found in what the world offers, the joy of Christianity cannot be bought. With rejoicing in the Lord always, He gives one a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. That is why the Christian cannot be a prophet of misfortune, but a witness and herald of joy.
The second is to give thanks in all circumstances. This attitude arouses a disposition that Jesus Christ loves me through all moments that occur in my life. This disposition creates inner strength to face hardship, difficulty, or suffering when all comes to life. Inner strength believes that anything happens for a reason and the main reason is to imitate Jesus Christ perfectly. It means Christ can come into one life even in the worst circumstances. Being thankful in all circumstances forms perseverance to follow him. Perseverance is a burning with love as he loves, helping as he helps, giving as he gives, serving as he serves. And the birth of Christ opens a fact that I never walk alone. My thanks in all circumstances finally make me receive what is said by Isaiah: God has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels
The joy of Christianity delivers to peace which is a joy within. Peace on earth derives from the truth that has arisen from the earth: Christ was born of flesh. How could there be peace on earth if Christ had not been born? In peace one encounters God of peace and God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason, our mouths filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy.
John the Baptist is an example of a man of joy. He testified about joy because he was the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, make the straight the way of the lord. Imitating John the Baptist, Christianity must also testify to the joy of the lord. Of course, Christian life is not separated from the difficulty, hardship, and struggle. We are still life and part of the world. The life can be described as the desert. John the Baptist urges us to testify to the light in other people’s lives, to bring joy to other lives, and to introduce Jesus Christ to other people. The joy must be shared because joy brings people together. A joy that is shared with others is an infectious joy that renders the journey not so toilsome. Moreover, when the joy is shared it is the same as bringing light to others, the shared joy means one testifies to the light of Christ and makes straight the way of the lord.
John the Baptist was asked by the priest and Levites who are you and the disciple of Christ is also asked who are you by the people who have not yet known Christ. We say also that we are the voices from the ‘desert’ that share the joy of Christ. Of course, we are not the light, but we come to testify to the light that is Jesus Christ with the joy of our lives. Our testimony of Christ is like the moon reflecting the light of the sun. We reflect Christ’s light to you. We are the disciples of Christ who bring good news. We prepare the way. By his nativity, Christ is in the middle of you who seek the world’s peace. He is your savior. We introduce Christ to those who grope for him. But whether they will find him is up to us. For sure, man will not find Christ if his disciples do not bring joy.
The priests and Levites question who are you; are you Messiah; why do you baptize; reflected that they did not have joyful lives so that they could not embrace God’s truth that is Jesus Christ. They did not hold fast to what was good. The priest and the Levites were supposed to know the truth from their status were failed to bring light to other people. They tested everything but they did not grasp the truth about Jesus Christ. The reason was their arrogance and for them, status and power were more important than goodness and truth. Instead of bringing joy, they brought pressure and pulled over faith, love, and hope. Their life became rigid, arid, and no joy. Their rigid and arid quenched the spirit so that it was impossible for them to celebrate the nativity of Messiah. Some disciples of Christ have the spirit and the style of Levites so for them to rejoice always in God is only a pop of words which does not have meaning all. Grumbling and sadness escort their lives.
With a Christian’s life full of joy, may our life bear a joyful testimony to see and proclaim God’s greatness: I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal. The joy of Christ within us dazzles us to see Christ’s glory every day so that we are not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal. The joy of Sunday Advent carves the voices of Saint Paul: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you in the heart of every Christian. Let us dare to share and actualize the joy of Christ with the world.
A song from the 14th century that is written from the joyful heart:
Exult for joy, Jerusalem! Alleluia.
Lo, He who reigns above the skies
There, in a manger lowly, lies. Alleluia.
The ox and ass in the neighboring stall
See in that Child the Lord of all. Alleluia.
And kingly pilgrims, long foretold,
From East bring incense, myrrh, and gold, Alleluia.
And enter with their offerings,
To hail the new-born King of Kings. Alleluia.
He comes, a maiden mother’s Son,
Yet earthly father hath He none; Alleluia.
And, from the serpent’s poison free,
He owned our blood and pedigree. Alleluia.
Our feeble flesh and His the same,
Our sinless kinsman He became Alleluia.
That we, from deadly thrall set free,
Like Him, and so like God, should be. Alleluia.
Come then; and on this natal day,
Rejoice before the Lord and pray. Alleluia.
And to the Holy One in Three
Give praise and thanks eternally. Alleluia.
 Pope Francis, Angelus, Saint Peter’s Square Third Sunday of Advent, 17 December 2017
Copyright © 2023 ducksophia.com. All Rights Reserved