Gospel Reflection for the 3rd. Sunday of Advent
Today, the third Sunday of Advent is called ‘Guadete Sunday’ which means ‘Joy’ or Rejoice’. The opening antiphon for today’s liturgy asks us to Rejoice is the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near. Today, on our Advent Wreath we light our pink candle to mark this day of joy.
St. Paul’s advice and encouragement from the first reading today gives this third Sunday of Advent its traditional name Gaudete Sunday. Joy is the central message of our readings and prayers this Sunday, and indeed the whole of Advent and the celebration of Christ.
One of the most well-known Christmas carols is ‘Joy to world.’ The words to this carol were written by Isaac Watts in 1719. At Christmas it will be sung all over the world. The music for it comes from Handel’s ‘Messiah.’
The first words that Mary hears when she is told that she is going to be the mother of Jesus are, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured.’ Mary is to be filled with joy because God has called her by her name and her son will be the long awaited Messiah. When she goes to see Elizabeth her cousin, she breaks into song, singing out loudly, ‘My souls proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savour’. Mary does not keep her good news or her joy to herself, she freely shares them Elizabeth and the whole world. When the angles appeared to the shepherds they heard this life-giving message, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you news of great joy.’ The good news of Jesus’ birth is meant not only for the shepherds, it continues to be good news for each of us today.
Up until recently we prayed these words after the Our Father, ‘as we wait in joyful for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Although no longer used, this is still central message of Advent. We are called to wait for the birth of Jesus and we are to wait in hope joyfully. As we wait, we are not to be afraid, anxious or worried; we are to wait in joyful hope. Why? Because, as the opening antiphon tells us, ‘The Lord is very near.’
Like Mary who shared her joy with Elizabeth, today each of us is asked to be a person of joy and we are asked to share that our joy with others. There are many people, some of whom we may even know, who have little reason to be joyful at this time of the year. As Mary did with Elizabeth, may we follow her example and share our joy with all those meet during these last few days and weeks of Advent. May we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
- Michael Moore OMI