BY: Fr Uchendu Simeon


(Zeph 3:14-18a; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18)

Have you ever seen the face of a young lady preparing, maybe about five days, to marrying the love of her life? Some here may remember their own times. Or, have you witnessed a married lady who longed to have a child but for years could not, only for her to suddenly conceive? Have you ever seen the face of such a person before? If you haven’t seen, just try to imagine it. I bet you it radiates. There’s joy and smiles, even though hands are still open waiting for the result to come. That is expectant joy, that is our message for today, the joy that is already radiating because of the reality that is expected.

Today the third Sunday of advent is the Gaudete Sunday. Guadete is a latin word which simply means “rejoice”, which is the first word of our entrance antiphon (Phil4:4). In the midst of this solemn advent season when we reflect and await the coming of the messiah (at Christmas and most importantly at the final coming), we suddenly hear, “rejoice”.

The whole thing can be quite puzzling. The church is in a solemn season, just like in lent. Altars are mildly decorated, the Gloria is not sung/said, souls are asked to prepare for the coming of Jesus. All of the a sudden, today is called Gaudete, the candle of the advent wreath today is rose, and the church says, “rejoice!”. This is not really the church’s doing. It is the Spirit of God at work. In the first reading (Zeph 3:14 -18a), there were enemies all around Israel, yet the Spirit of God spoke out through Zephaniah saying; “sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; …. Rejoice and be glad with all your heart”. Even worse was the situation of St Paul in the second reading. He was in chains, yet he wrote; “rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice” (Phil 4:4)

The message is simple. God cares for you, and he want your happiness. Just muster the courage and smile. Are you in pain? Find the strength somewhere within you to smile up. Are you in darkness? Close your eyes, look up with the eyes of faith and rejoice in Jesus the light of God coming to you now. Are you in doubt? Tell him that you believe and walk to the happiness he is giving. And you in sorrows and heartbreaks, walk up to Jesus, don’t let anything or situation take your peace away. What of the spiritually weak? Just tell him that you desire to do better and see his joy return. He wants you to be happy.

Yes, certain things seem to hinder or limit that happiness and joy. He knows, so he says that he “will remove his judgements against you, and scatter things that work against this happiness of yours”. And like the people in the gospel, the question is, what shall we do to be part of this?

  1. Believe: The first foundation of having an expectant joy is faith; that God exists, that he cares for you, and that he can do whatever and whenever he wants. He is the Lord.
  2. Allow God to take charge: Zephaniah said; “The Lord your God is in your midst…” Allow him to take over.
  3. Confess your weakness and do your sincere best. the people confessed (Mtt 3:6), and asked for help, and he told them; “be generous (to the people), practice justice (to the tax collectors), be fair (to soldiers), be true to and contended with yourself (about himself), and then yield the Holy Spirit

The true joy he talks about actually radiates with peace from the inner spirit, flowing from within to the outside, putting smile to the face and reaching unto others.

Let us end this singing with David (Ps 51:11); # cast me not away from your presence oh lord, take not your Holy Spirit from me, restore unto me, the joy of my salvation, and renew your spirit within me# (2x).

May God bless you and the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for you.

-Fr Uchendu Simeon



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