Third Sunday of Advent: Cycle A

December 11, 2022.

Guadate is Latin for rejoice.  On this Gaudate Sunday we rejoice because we have reached the halfway point of our Advent Journey.   

The word rejoice begins with the prefix re.  We see that same prefix in the words renew, refine, restore, refresh, return, repeat, and even refurbish.    Re is a call to approach again, not merely for the sake of doing something over, but to honor it and make it stronger. Rejoice is a call to action – an invitation, challenge, and command to return to joy.   

The readings today are filled with action – action that brings joy.

 Isaiah describes all kinds of action in the First Reading:  

  • Flowers will bloom 
  • We will see God’s glory 
  • God will strengthen our hands, make firm our knees 
  • The eyes of the blind be opened 
  • the ears of the deaf be cleared 
  • the lame will leap  
  • the mute will sing 

This theme of action continues in the Responsorial Psalm:  

  • God gives food to the hungry 
  • sets captives free 
  • loves the just 
  • protects strangers 
  • sustains the widowed and orphaned  

Saint James calls us to action in the Second Reading as well. He says: 

  • Be patient 
  • Make your hearts firm 
  • Do not complain 

And it continues the gospel: 

  • John sends his disciples to Jesus to ask a question. 
  • Jesus sends them back to John with a reply.  
  • Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah about 
  • sending a messenger 
  • and preparing the way.  

All action.  Advent – the preparing for the coming of Joy requires action.    

Certainly there’s a lot to do in the weeks before Christmas: 

  • Gifts to buy or make.   
  • Packages to wrap.   
  • Cards to send.
  • Cookies to bake.   
  • Parties to attend.   

All wonderful, but can be overwhelming if we lose why we are doing those things, of what is calling us to action.   

Certainly there are things that we need to do because they are the things that we need to do.   But we need to do them with joy.   

Not merely out of obligation, but because it brings joy to others.  When we bring joy to others, it brings out the best in ourselves.   

A wonderful side effect of bringing joy to someone else is that it actually increases our own joy. 

So in all that we not merely have to do or need to do, but what we should do over these next two weeks, let our motive be not out of obligation but to bring joy to others and allow it to bring joy to us.  

And to keep going back, returning, refocusing on the reason we are doing all of this.  The cause of joy.  Emmanuel.  God with us.         

Reverend Neil S. Sullivan