A theme which runs through the readings of this Third Sunday of Advent is “Rejoice in the Lord”:
- The first reading, for instance, says: “Sing aloud …Rejoice and exult with all your heart [for] …the Lord is in your midst” (Zeph. 3:14-15)!
- Similarly, the responsorial Psalm enjoins us: “Shout and sing for joy …for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 12:6)!
- The Lord, the Holy One of Israel, is our Saviour. So, His presence brings us great joy. Hence, when the people were excited that in St. John the Baptist, they were experiencing the work of a great prophet, he redirected them to our Lord Jesus Christ, the real cause of joy (cf. Luke 3:10-18; gospel reading).
- Then, in the exhortation of St. Paul, the call to rejoice and the source of our joy are succinctly woven together: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4; see second reading)!
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the true cause of our everlasting joy. Even while He was in the womb of Mother Mary, Jesus would make the unborn John the Baptist rejoice in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth (cf. Luke 1:41). Let us, therefore, elaborate further on Jesus as the true cause of our joy by considering how John saw his relationship with Jesus. For an analogy, we could say that in the long convoy of the visiting King (Jesus), John was a mere dispatch rider. Thus, John would rightly declare: “I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16). So, John declared that he was only one of the least servants of Jesus, the true cause of our joy. Furthermore:
- Whereas John did not heal the sick, Jesus, the Divine Physician healed and He continues to heal every sickness
- Whereas John did not cast out demons, Jesus did and He continues to do so
- Whereas John did not multiply loaves, Jesus did and He continues to do so; moreover, Jesus is the Bread of our eternal life
- Whereas John did not raise the dead, Jesus, who is our resurrection and life, did and He continues to do so
- Yes, John died for the truth, but his death did not save the world. However, by His death and resurrection, Jesus saves the world
- Yes, John was a great prophet but he is the least in the Kingdom of Heaven, while Jesus is the Prophet of all prophets, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, the King of Heaven and earth, as well as God from God, true God from true God, begotten not made!
Beloved, indeed far greater than our imagination and words can capture is the salvation God is offering us through His eternal Son, born in time in Bethlehem!
Indeed, only Jesus is capable of changing our mourning into dancing (cf. first reading). He turns our death into new life and our hell into heaven!
So beloved, in whatever situation we find ourselves today, let us rejoice. In other words, despite the challenges or difficulties we may be experiencing in life, let us rejoice in the good news of salvation in Jesus!
Let us, now conclude by singing the Advent hymn which enjoins us to rejoice in our saving Lord:
O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lowly exile here,
Until the Son of God appears,
Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel,
To thee shall come Emmanuel.
By Very Rev. Fr. John K. Louis