Sunday, December 17
The Third Sunday of Advent
John 1: 6-8, 19-28
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
And this is the testimony of John.
When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests
and Levites to him
to ask him, “Who are you?”
He admitted and did not deny it,
but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”
So they asked him,
“What are you then? Are you Elijah?”
And he said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
So they said to him,
“Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?
What do you have to say for yourself?”
“I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘make straight the way of the Lord,'”
as Isaiah the prophet said.”
Some Pharisees were also sent.
They asked him,
“Why then do you baptize
if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”
John answered them,
“I baptize with water;
but there is one among you whom you do not recognize,
the one who is coming after me,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan,
where John was baptizing.
Today, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday. We should take a breather from the waiting we do in Advent for the Incarnation and take a day to Rejoice. The season of Advent dates back to the fifth century. It was shortened from forty days to just four weeks in the ninth century. The Gaudate name dates back to its earliest days. It is meant for us to take time off from the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas to reflect and Rejoice in the many blessings we have been given. This season can become such an intense time for us, adding stress and occasionally creating overreactions to what would otherwise be considered our normal life.
Today, we wear the rose (not “pink”) vestments to emphasize that this day differs from the rest of Advent. In his 2014 Gaudete Sunday homily, Pope Francis said that Gaudete Sunday is known as the “Sunday of joy,” and that instead of fretting about all they still haven’t done to prepare for Christmas, people should “think of all the good things life has given you.” And why not? After all, John was sent to us by God. His voice in the desert can still be heard today, if we listen deeply to his message of hope. The daily noise we receive from the news and from our government leaders should remain just that, simply noise. We celebrated the feast of Christ the King only a few weeks ago reminding us that Our Lord will indeed return as King. This day also reminds us to Rejoice and know that we are indeed blessed with this knowledge. Despite all our troubles and struggles, joy can be experienced even in the midst of our sadness, if we put them behind us for just a day. Today is set aside for just that purpose.
God’s blessings to all of you and your families this Advent, this Christmas, and this New Year!