3rd Sunday in Advent - Year C - 13th December, 2015

Gaudete Sunday

The third Sunday of Advent, so called from the first word of the Introit antiphon at Mass (Gaudete, i.e. Rejoice). In fact it is a theme running through all the readings for this Sunday.

Our responsorial psalm comes from thefirst part of the Book of Isaiah. The authorurges the people to rejoice 'for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel' .Similar sentiments are expressed in the first reading where the prophet Zephaniah joyfully announces, 'The Lord, your God, is in your midst'.

In the time of Zephaniah Israel was in turmoil. There was much internal corruption and the people felt very weak before their enemies, notably the powerful Assyrians. While urging the people to repent, Zephaniah offers a message of hope and consolation. The people should not be afraid because the Lord their God is in their midst and will protect them.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” should be their song.

Despite the difficulties and evils around us, we should not fear for the Lord is with us. As we recognise and rejoice in the presence of Christ among us, we are called to 'make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!

Declare the greatness of his name'. We do this through our words but especially through our actions, as John the Baptist points out in today's Gospel. When we share our food and clothing with others, and when we exact no more than our due, we witness to our faith that God alone is our strength and our song. With the apostle Paul we do not worry but confidently ask God for what we need.

Paul was locked up in prison when he was writing to the Philippians. Being a driven, active man, he would have been in spiritual turmoil if he had not possessed a deep inner well of faith. But from his conviction that the Lord is near he drew a great happiness which he wants to share with the Philippians. He urges them to show this inner happiness in two ways: tolerance towards others and a trust in God which banishes worry.

Will the good news of Christmas make us more patient and tolerant? Less worried? Truly joyful?

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Fr Kevin O'Shea C.M.