Rejoice in the Lord always:
The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” This Sunday is so named because “Rejoice” is the first word in the entrance antiphon for today’s Mass taken from Philippians 4:4,5: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.” This Sunday is marked with a pink candle on the Advent wreath instead of a purple candle. This Sunday is a joyful reminder that our salvation is near. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus encourages John the Baptist in prison to rejoice by casting away his wrong expectations about the Messiah and simply accepting Jesus’ healing and preaching ministry as the fulfilment of the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah. In the second part of today’s Gospel, Matthew presents Jesus, the true Messiah, paying the highest compliments to John the Baptist as his herald and the last of the prophets, and giving special credit to the courage of John’s prophetic convictions, asking his listeners to rejoice in the greatness of his herald.
Jesus’ message to John about the signs of the kingdom being performed recalls the salvation described by the prophet Isaiah. This passage is a reminder that the beginning of salvation is already mysteriously present to us, but also yet to be fulfilled. Salvation is already in our midst as manifest in the miraculous deeds of Jesus and in the Church. But salvation is also to be fulfilled in the coming reign of God. Even as we observe our world today, we can find glimpses of God’s work among us. Even more, we help to prepare the way for God’s kingdom by our words and our deeds. This message is indeed a cause for rejoicing. We rejoice at the thought that Jesus is going to be reborn in our lives, deepening in us His gifts of love, mercy, forgiveness and the spirit of humble and sacrificial service during this Christmas season. Hence, let us joyfully share God’s bountiful grace, forgiveness, and mercy with others. What Jesus commanded John’s disciples, he commands us as well: Go and tell others what you hear and see. This means that we have to share with others our experience of the rebirth of Jesus within us.