The third Sunday of Advent is Sunday of Joy. It’s called Gaudete Sunday because today’s Mass begins with the opening antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The theme for this weekend is joy and encouragement. We light the Rose Candle and rose vestment, a sign of joy.
On Rejoice Sunday, sets a joyful expectation for the Lord’s birth and the second coming of the Lord. At the same time, he continues to come into every day of our lives. St. Teresa of Calcutta, when she noticed her sisters showing signs of sadness, would say "get out with the people." They saw Jesus in the people.
The prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, encourages the exiled Jews in Babylon to believe that God is going to save them and transform their lives. The ultimate salvation comes through the coming of Jesus. In the second reading, James the Apostle encourages the early Christians to be patient, “because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Today’s Gospel reading, we see John the Baptist and Jesus sending the message to each other.
John the Baptist is the last and greatest of the prophets of the old covenant. He fulfilled the essential task of all the prophets – preparing the way for Messiah. John pointed others to Jesus the Messiah at the River Jordan when he cried; behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
When King Herod throws John into prison, he sent his disciples to Jesus. John told them to ask Jesus, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." Here, Jesus encourages John the Baptist to accept his healing and preaching ministry as the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Isaiah.
Jesus told John’s disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see.” Joy is here among the people because they can see, hear, talk, and walk. They are healed physically, emotionally and spiritually. They are rejoicing.
What really makes for lasting happiness? Happiness comes from relationships. Jesus decided to come and embrace humanity, because He wants to relate with us, bring us back to joy. Many of our seniors will tell you that they really love their husbands or wives and continued to do so after their spouse died. In our faith, we believe that our loved ones who have gone before us are with the Lord watching over us now and waiting for us to join them later on. That makes us happy.
The greatest relationship we can possibly have is the one that brings us the greatest joy. That is the relationship with Jesus Christ. Real happiness comes from the encounter with God. May the preparation before Christmas bring us authentic joy at Christmas!
Child Jesus will ask you and me the same question he asked John’s disciples, “What we hear and see?” Do we see lots of joy around us?