Reflection of the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A ( Gaudate Sunday ).
Topic: Restoring Perfect Joy in Christ Our redeemer ( Is.35:1-6,10; Js.5:7-10; Mt.11:2-11).
We hear about tribal, civil and religious war from time to time. In such situation, people are killed, others captured, some prisoners of war, many are displaced while a good number become refugees. There are those who will be captives that they do not know what the future holds. They live in fear because their lives are at the mercy of their enemies. They become slaves to their enemies. Majority of them will lose hope of being alive to see themselves reuniting with their family members let alone making it back to their fatherland. Such were the plight of the Israelites before Isaiah started giving them hope, that God will liberate them from Babylon and restore their joy. They lost their nation and liberty through their disloyalty to God, but in His mercy God promised to liberate them. Isaiah is telling the people of Israel that, this liberation from slavery of Babylon will be a source of joy. He assured them that those suffering from human defects will be cured thereby restoring what they lack in life. This was fulfilled in Mattew 11:5. This implies that all those set free by God’s mercy will rejoice with unending joy, when they return to Jerusalem. That is why in verse 10. Isaiah said “for those whom Yahweh has ransomed will return, they will come to Zion shouting for joy, their heads crowned with joy unending; rejoicing and gladness will escort them and sorrow and sighing will take flight.” In returning to our base shall our joy come to its fullness. Our base is our fatherland which is the heavenly Jerusalem.
James in his letter tells us to be patient in our moments of trials and tribulations. He encourages us never to lose hope even when our closest friends and relations turn against us as a result of our faith. He encourages us to be firm until the coming of the Lord. He reminds us that every labourer has a wage, therefore let us wait on the Lord patiently. We should be charitable to others and not being judgemental so that we will not be judged when the Lord comes. Paul pointed it out also in Rom. 12:12-13 “Be joyful in hope, persevere in hardship; keep praying regularly; share with any of God’s holy people who are in need; look for opportunities to be hospitable.” In my own opinion, Christmas is the best time to reach out to those who we have not been able to reach.
John the baptist hearing about the deeds of Christ from the prison where he was, sent his disciples to go and ask Christ if he was the Messiah. Christ responded well by telling them in Mtt.11:5 “Go and tell John what they hear and see: the blind receive their sight and lame walk, lepers are cleansed and deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” This is a confirmation of Isaiah ‘ s prophesy in Is.35:5-6. This is a sign of liberation and restoration which brings the perfect and everlasting joy to every human being.
This Gaudate Sunday, we are talking about us singing the song of joy which the coming of Christ will bring, with the emancipation from the stain of sin and deformity. It restores us to the glory of the Children of God which gives us the impetus to sing the Lord’s glory. The message of the Incarnation of Christ is to elevate us to share in the glory of the children of God. He will wipe away our tears and sorrows, our sleepless nights, our fears and anxieties, and deformities. He will liberate us from the slavery of sin. We will experience the new Jerusalem where our joy will have no end.
Brethren, James is telling us to be patient in our trials for the coming of our Lord is at hand. We may not find this peace and joy that Christ brings unless we prepare to receive Jesus who is coming at Christmas. Many of us may be busy preparing materially, seeking for this joy in earthly things. Some are making preparation for their great family feast, buying presents and greeting cards, renovating their homes, getting ready to welcome and entertain friends, relatives and loved ones who they expect to see at this period. Some others are interested in buying expensive and flashy wears and cars. Women plaiting their hairs. People also seize the opportunity to fix weddings and other ceremonies.These are what give people temporary joy. Many may not even remember their poor neighbours. There is a poem entitled “Richard Cory”. It was about a wealthy man whom the neighbours thought that because he had every material thing you could think of therefore, he had no problem. Whenever he passed in the street, he greeted well and behaved like an angel. Suddenly, one day they heard a gun shot in his house, they rushed in discovered that Richard Cory had killed himself. They began wondered,what could be his worry. Indeed, all that glitters is not gold. This thought them a great lesson that wealth does not necessarily determine happiness and peace of mind, rather, it comes from God.
Sincere Christians use this period to also put their spiritual home in order so that they may welcome and entertain the greatest friend man could ever have. This is also the time to amend our spiritual lives, by way of receiving the sacraments of reconciliation, and Holy Eucharist. Few Christians also see this period as a time of amending broken relationships and restoring the everlasting joy of Christ’s presence in their lives and families. The question is, how do we prepare to receive Christ Our joy and liberator?
1. The Incarnation of Christ is the greatest gift of God to humanity. God taking our human nature to liberate us from the bondage of the enemy and sin and restore us to be children of God. This liberation is both spiritual and physical.
2. How do we prepare to receive this perfect joy which comes with the incarnation of Christ? Material preparation is necessary but, spiritual preparation is more important. We need to repent and make amends so that Christ will meet us.
3. Christ’s coming will give us the type of healing that no counsellor or material medicine can give. He will restore our joy by removing our emotional and spiritual enemies. He will give everlasting joy.
4. We are on a journey in this world, and our joy will never be complete until we reach where we meet our Father.
Happy Gaudate Sunday. The Lord be with you.
-Fr Emmanuel Uchechukwu Muodebelu C.S.Sp