Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year B (GAUDETE SUNDAY)
Theme: The Coming One
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday December 13 2020
Looking far into the future with the opticals of faith and catching a glimpse of the glory and the magnificence of the _Coming One_ , our hearts are filled with joy and all of our being ignites into a hilarious song of praise. It is indeed a joyful hope (gaudium et spes), a joy that not only brightens our expectation, but also keeps us firmly established in the certainty of the realities of our expectation. It is a joy that transforms the disappointments of the past and the uncertainties of the present by the glory of the future we await. The joy that our Salvation is close at hand! May the joy of the coming Lord be your strength; Amen.
The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as _Gaudete Sunday_ . This title is inspired by the first word of the _Entrance Antiphon_ for today’s Liturgy that reads in part in Latin “Gaudete in Domino”, meaning, “Rejoice in the Lord.” It is a moment during the Season of Advent when the joy of the coming feasts subtly brightens the penitential and expectant mode of the Season. This joy is visibly made manifest in the Liturgy with the colour rose, which could be worn today by the Ministers and with which the altar could also be decorated. The colour rose is symbolically borne out of the mixture of a little quantity of the Christmas colour white (which signifies joy) to the colour of the Advent Season purple/violet (which signifies in this case penitence and expectation). To be joyful is an essential Christian virtue and a vital element of God’s Kingdom: “for it is not eating and drinking that make the Kingdom of God, but the saving justice, the peace and the joy brought by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The uniqueness of this joy is as a result of its divine origin and the eternal quality it embodies. It is the Holy Spirit who breeds this joy in the heart of all those who believe. The presence of this joy has a unique way of strengthening faith, of brightening hope and of making love most sincere. Joy illumines not just the human face, but also the human heart, soul and spirit. Joy intimately connects the man or woman of faith to the basic contents of God’s Kingdom of joy. Hence, the reality of joy must accompany also our waiting in hope for the manifestation of God’s Kingdom. For this very reason, Saint Paul invites us in the First Reading of today (I Thess 5:16-24); “be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God’s expects you to do in Christ Jesus.” A joyful heart naturally gives thanks to God for the great things He had done and for the great things He continues to do in our midst. This is always the central message of the Second Sunday of Advent.
Certainly, there are circumstances in which the reality of the Christian joy seems like an illusion and a concept far removed from the reality on ground. In such circumstances, as is the case with the present Pandemic, the need to experience afresh and in renewed force the presence of this God-given joy remains ever before us. Whatever the case may, we must always know as sons and daughters of God that this joy is real and that at Advent the imminence of the full-blown manifestation of this joy is doubly emphasised and envisaged. The First Reading (Is 61:1-2, 10-11) from part of the prophecies of Isaiah recaptures this upsurge of joy in the midst of the Advent hope; “I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for He has clothed me in the garments of salvation.” It is a joy that is concretely founded; a joy that is founded on the certainty of faith in the promises of God “to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.” It is a joy founded on the person and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is our joy and our only source of true joy! This was the message of John the Baptist in the Gospel Reading of today (John 1:6-8, 19-28); “I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; I am not fit to undo his sandal strap.” That He will come again in glory is the foundation of our hope and that His coming will bring us integral transformation is our reason to be joyful. Our mission is to diffuse, not only this hope, but also this joy, wherever we find ourselves; in our families, places of work, ecclesia communities, among our friends and with all those we meet in the path of life, especially those who may have lost every reason to be joyful in hope, because the joy we carry within us in Christ is salvific.
Lord God, with Your precious gift of joy You illumine our entire being and brighten our paths so as to remain focused on Your Eternal Plan for our Salvation. May this offer of joy, by the power of the Holy Spirit, keep us faithful as we await in hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in glory; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE