In the readings of this Sunday, it is all about hope and joy. That is why the Church calls it Sunday Gaudete. The words comes from the Introit for Gaudete Sunday, which is taken from Phillipians 4:4-5: Gaudete in Domino semper, or "rejoice in the Lord always." On Gaudete Sunday, having passed the midpoint of Advent, the Church lightens the mood a little, and the priest may wear rose vestments. The change in color provides worshippers with encouragement to continue their spiritual preparation for Christmas.
The readings also shine out that joy and hope. It refers to Israel as a joyful bride coming to the bridegroom for the oriental wedding. St. Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, continues this theme of hope and joy, in his vision of the Early Christian Communities. In St. John’s Gospel we find that joy as well, but it is a responsible joy, when a person heeds to the call that God has for his or her life. Isaiah tells us that the anointed brings good news to the oppressed. This is what Jesus takes to himself and his purpose in life. This should be the case in every Christian as matter a fact. We that are in Christ need to share in that responsibility as well. We are called today for that spiritual joy in which we are waiting for the coming of the Lord. In that way we enter into communion with the creator God. But it also should show the willingness to be co-workers for the kingdom of God. We need to realize the goals that God has for the world. In these challenging times we need more than ever be Gods hands and feet, ears and lips, in the world.
We need also be joyful for the blessings that God bestowed on us. There are many examples of how God worked and still works in our lives. In this time of Advent, we are called to help those in need. If we do so we truly share in mission of Christ. Just like Jesus did, we too must show our commitment to people that live on the margins of society. We should not be afraid of the pain and suffering of the people on the margins but come through and touch them with the “Good News” of Christ’s Gospel. Authentic joy is not only to be found in our personal life but also in our care for our neglected neighbors. The two can go hand in hand with our own lifestyle. This is the commission for everyone that builds their life on Jesus. Just like a child we need to seek for answers that really matter for the rest of our lives. We will never possess the total truth, but it is a lifelong quest. The tells us God is truth — and God always transcends our small lives. We will never being able to grasp God fully with our hearts and minds. But still, we have to keep on searching for that highest goal. It brings us closer to God and others.
We have to keep asking ourselves Who and what drives us in our lives and how we position ourselves in front of that. We need to ask ourselves about our own identity and keep on reaching higher. The religious authorities ask John about his identity and why he does what he does. He is clear who he is not, namely the Christ. He did not claim any titles for himself or put himself in a position that was not his. He was humble and referred to the coming Christ. Later on, in the same Gospel he will refer to himself as “friend of the bridegroom” who rejoices when hearing the bridegroom’s voice. Today John himself is a very important voice. Namely, the voice crying in the wilderness. He is the preparer of the way of the Lord. His job was to open people’s eyes to the person standing among them. If people ask us about who we are, we always need to refer to the One that transcends us. What people say about us is not important. What God says about us is much more important. John the Baptist can be of great help to us. He articulates for us who each one of us is in the eyes of God. He calls us to be who God is calling us to be. We are preparers of the way as well. We are not the light. We know there is much darkness inside of us that needs to be overcome. However, like John, we are a witness to the Light which is Christ the Lord. Even though not perfect, we are, called to be a witness to Christ.
John the Baptist says:’ “there stands among you, the one who is coming after me and i am not worthy to untie his sandals.” Jesus Christ stands among us but is unknown to many. We need to do more to make him know to people, through our own lives. We need to be a witness of the “light that shines in the darkness. John the Baptist was a voice crying in the wilderness. He invited people into a relationship with God and that is what we need to do. We need to spread faith in Christ, both in word and deed. We need to be the medium through which God can communicate to this broken world. When we realize our calling to be witnesses to the light, it changes our own lives as well. Advent is a good time to reclaim our true identity and be a witness to the light of Christ. Only in that way Jesus can be born again….in the manger of our hearts. Amen