Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year C (GAUDETE SUNDAY)
Theme: Rejoice in the Lord
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday December 12 2021
To be joyful is an essential element of the faith we profess as Christians. It is part and parcel of our hope on the fulfilment of the promises of God. The ultimate foundation of the Christian joy is Jesus Christ. In the life and mission of Christ, we locate and concretely experience the very source of joy we must carry in our hearts. The Gospel demands us to carry this joy ( _Evangelii Gaudium_) to our brothers and sisters through our personal life-witness to the values of the Christian faith. May the joy of Christ dispel every form of sadness in our hearts and all sources of sadness around us; Amen.
The Liturgical Theme and Tone of every Third Sunday of Advent is that of _Rejoice_. This theme and tone is underlined by the Entrance Antiphon which proclaims “Gaudete in Domino – Rejoice in the Lord.” The Third Sunday of Advent received its title from this Entrance Antiphon for which it is traditionally called _Gaudete Sunday_. The palpable liturgical expression of this joy is seen in the traditional liturgical colour of the day, namely, rose. This colour (rose) is derived by mixing a little portion of the white colour of the Christmas feast to the purple colour of Advent. This little portion of white colour signifies a little bit of the joy, hilarity and festive mode of the Christmas Feast. It may seem out of place to invite the faithful to rejoice in the midst of the penitential, recollective and expectancy modes of the Season. More still, with the sad situations around the world, sicknesses, wars, dehumanisations and various forms of abuse, ringing the bell of joy may seem insensitive. On the contrary, the invitation to rejoice is a visible and laudable expression of faith on the certainty of the content of our hope. Saint Paul underlined this fact in the Second Reading (Phil 4:4-7); “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness… The Lord is near.” That the Lord is near does not only confirm the fact that our hope on God is not an empty hope but also, it brings us to begin to feel the closeness of the joy which our hope in the coming Lord brings; _Gaudium et spes_. This is the content of the preaching of John the Baptist in the Gospel Reading of today (Luke 3:10-18), “I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of His sandals; He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This feeling of expectancy with which the people accepted the message of John the Baptist was laden with joy; the joy that is inspired by a glimpse of the Light of Salvation; the joy that brightens our faces and makes light our burdens; the joy that inspires us to burst into praises, in the words of the Psalmist, to “sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Truly, the Lord is near!
The prophets and the people of God had always joyfully expected the coming of the Messiah. They were joyful because they knew that His appearance will change their story for good. The First Reading (Zephaniah 3:14-18) recaptures that joyful hope as the prophet convoked the people to a festival of joy; “rejoice, exult with all your heart… the Lord has repealed your sentence; He has driven your enemies away.” These enemies are the sources of our sadness and disorientation. These enemies have an agenda to distort everything godly and to distract God’s children from focusing on Him. Part of their major goal is to empty us of the joy we have in us; the joy of our salvation. Fortunately for us, these enemies haven’t the power to achieve this goal without our cooperation. Hence, the invocation to joy is also an invocation to cooperate with God to eradicate all sources of sadness and backwardness in our society. It is a summons to refrain from old and crooked ways; to avoid gossips and calumny, to be charitable and generous, to be just and fair in our dealings with others and to encourage each on the path of righteousness. The invocation to be joyful is an invitation to be penitent and to learn mercy and forgiveness. The Advent Joy is a fountain of reconciliation, where we experience reconciliation with God and sincerely dispose ourselves to be reconciled with one another. These are the indications of our personal and communal preparedness to encounter the King of kings when He comes. In fact, the clearest sign of our joyfulness is the positive disposition to do good and to promote the cause of righteousness. By persisting and insisting in doing good we render the devil and his cohorts powerless and jobless. The more jobless and powerless the devil and his cohorts become, the more joy we shall have in our lives and communities, and the Light of God will shine in a brighter mode in us.
Lord, looking around us, we see many reasons to be sad and downcast. But looking up to You, we discover even many more reasons to be joyful and hopeful in the manifestation of Your power and presence amongst us. May the joy of knowing You and the joy of our salvation in You never be stolen from us nor lost by us; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE