HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B (GAUDETE SUNDAY)
HOMILY THEME: THE JOY OF THE LORD
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
The joy of the Lord is our strength! The joy of those who are recipients of divine promises. The joy of those who are waiting earnestly for the coming of their Lord and God. The joy of the greatest gift of God; the gift of the incarnation of His Only Begotten Son; the joy of the gift of Jesus Christ the Emmanuel whose birth we prepare to celebrate with the greatest of joy. May this joy transform us and make us ready to celebrate the feast of Christmas; Amen.
Following the liturgical sequence of the Advent Season, we today begin the second part of the Advent preparation (17-24 December) which focuses our attention on the celebration of Christmas. Most specifically, today, being the Third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate the ‘Gaudete Sunday’, the Joyful Sunday when we are invited to be joyful amidst our expectation. This joy is made manifest in the use of the colour Rose for today’s Liturgy and in the Entrance Antiphon which invites us to “rejoice in the Lord always; and I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (Phil 4:4-5). The joy of the promises which God made to us. Indeed, the joy of the sight of the one who Saint John the Baptist (Jn 1:6-8, 19-28), in his unique prophetic mission points our attention to, the joy of the One who “stands among us.” He is the joy of our expectations; the fulfillment of all the promises of God.
The joy we speak of is akin to, but much more deeper and real than the joy of those in captivity or in prison (Is 61:1-2,10-11) who just received the news of their liberation, because the former springs from the conditions and considerations of man and is also subject to the limitations of man whereas the later enjoys the plenitude that is characteristic of God and His eternity. This joy is without end because its author is both the Alpha and the Omega! It is the joy that springs from the news of our liberation, redemption and salvation, from the news of the restoration of our relationship with God and our peace with Him in the person and mission of Jesus Christ; certainly “He is our peace” (Eph 2:14).
The turn of events in some parts of the world may seem to blur our joy and place in us a condition that promote the upsurge of sadness and a feeling of meaninglessness of the world. A condition which may seem to put us in doubt about the reality of the liberation and salvation brought by Christ and the influence of His message in the world. The concrete and increasing cases of terrorist attacks, the inhuman cases of corruption, human trafficking and exploitation by some world leaders and by those who profess to share the same joy of faith with us, the unbearable cases of manipulation of people even with the name of Christ and the agitation for wars in some parts of the world by those who think that real power is demonstrated by threats of use of weapons of mass destruction. In all of these uncertainties, we must be convinced that no amount of catastrophe can diminish or extinguish the joy of the greatest gift of God of to us in Jesus Christ. Aware of this truth Saint Paul in the Second Reading (I Thess 5:16-24) exhorts us to “be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.” This is the singular attitude of one who knows and understands the logic of divine operation. As we celebrate the liturgy of today with the joy of our expectations in hope, may this joy lead us to a fruitful celebration of the Feast of Christmas and the grace to live the mysteries we celebrate; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE