Today is called “Gaudete Sunday” because today’s entrance antiphon begins: “Gaudete in Domino semper” –“Rejoice in the Lord always.”
In the past, when Advent was a season of penance, the celebrant of the liturgy used to wear vestments with the penitential color of purple or violet. In order to remind the people that they were preparing for the very joyful occasion of the birth of Jesus, the celebrant wore rose-colored vestments on the third Sunday.
The theme running through today’s readings is that of encouraging joy as we await the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives. The second theme is that of bearing witness. We are reminded that the coming of Jesus, past, present and future, is the reason for our rejoicing.
The first reading tells us that we should rejoice because the promised Messiah is coming as our Savior and liberator, saving us by liberating us from our bondages. In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist is always praising the Lord. The message here is – To receive God’s blessing, always praise Him. In verses 5-10, he shows that when we praise and trust in the almighty Lord, we will be blessed.
Do you want God’s blessing in your life? If so, always praise Him and always trust Him.
Today’s Gospel tells us that John the Baptizer came as a witness to testify to the Light, i.e., Jesus. The coming of Jesus, the Light, into the world is cause for rejoicing as he removes darkness from the world. We should be glad and rejoice also because, like John the Baptizer, we, too, are chosen to bear witness to Christ Jesus, the Light of the world.
Are we bearing witness for Christ through the way we live our daily lives?
We are to reflect Jesus’ Light in our lives so that we may radiate it and illuminate the dark lives of others around us.
Jesus asks the crowds three questions about John (11:7-9). The point of the three questions is to drive home the fact that the people went out to see a prophet (11:9). Indeed, John is “more than a prophet” in that he had a superior role. He was to be the herald of the Messiah’s coming, preparing his way. He is the messenger promised by the last of the prophets (Malachi 3:1 is quoted), even Elijah who is to come (11:14, alluding to Malachi 4:5). John is extolled as the greatest of human beings (11:11a).
Particularly in 11:5 Jesus speaks of his mission in one of the clearest statements in the gospels about it: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them” (11:5). These words speak of the Messiah in a striking way. Jesus came among the people to serve them, bringing life. Instead of casting away those persons who are at the margins of society — persons that many would want to send away and out of sight — it is precisely to those people that the Messiah came to restore and save.
We are blessed and fortunate to be living with the resurrection faith and to be a part of his body, the church. We are not people adrift in the world with uncertainty about who we are, how we should live, or where we are going. We belong to his community of believers, dedicated to him, instructed by him, and carrying out his ministry. As his disciples, and with mutual support, we align ourselves with his ministry in our witness to the gospel and in our works of mercy and our care for the world.
The joyful message of today’s liturgy is clear. The salvation we await with rejoicing will liberate both the individual and the community, and its special focus will be the poor and lowly, not the rich and powerful.
In His Service,