09 December 2011


3rd Sunday of Advent
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

          3rd Sunday of Advent

Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

          Today is the third Sunday of Advent.  It is Gaudete Sunday.  Gaudete comes from the Latin word, gaudium, which means “joy”.  Its infinitive form is gaudare; thus, gaudete is a command: “Rejoice!”  Today, we are told to rejoice because the Lord is already near.  Indeed, Christmas is barely a week away from today.  The Lord is near also because in a short while, right here in this Mass, we will receive the Lord in Holy Communion.  And yes, though we know not when His second coming will be, He is always near because that second coming may actually happen anytime…even now.
          But the Gospel today begins with the absence of the light.  And who usually finds joy in darkness?  Those who conceal their evil deeds, right?  Joy and darkness do not normally go together.  Joy is in the light; sadness, in darkness.  How then do we reconcile the theme of joy with the Gospel today?  What is its challenge to us?
          John the Baptist is the main protagonist in the Gospel today.  But he is not the light.  He himself is surrounded by darkness.  But there is no darkness in him.  He is not the light in person; he is a witness to the Light Himself, speaking for and pointing to the Him.  He calls people to prepare for the Light.  It is very important to heed and respond to his call because the Light is indispensable for joy to come upon us.  The truth is, the Light in person is Himself the Joy of the world.  That person is not John the Baptist.  He himself strongly says so.
          John the Baptist keeps on declaring “I am not” in order to point to the One who can rightfully say, “I am.”  With all his fame and following, John does not grab the lime light for himself.  Rather, he focuses people’s attention to the real Star: Jesus.  It is interesting to note that while it seems that the exact identity of the true Light-in-person is not totally known to John, it is nonetheless knows very well that he is not Him.  Thus, he does not allow himself to be intoxicated by his apparent popularity.  He does not lie to the crowds in general neither to his own disciples in particular.  He does not lie to himself in fact.  He accepts who he is: a witness to the Light.  He therefore acts accordingly: he makes way for the Light, creating a space for the Light Himself to shine through.  When the Light-in-person finally appears, John realizes that his role comes to an end: “He must increase,” John declares, “and I must decrease.”  John the Baptist – a rugged figure in the desert, an eccentric soul, an enigmatic prophet, is such a lovable, inspiring, and humble person.  And because he is so, the Light, Jesus Himself, is able to shine as He should.  The beauty of it is that when finally the Light appears, the true worth of John’s role in salvation history and the significance of his very own person are best understood and appreciated by us.  “No man born of a woman is there greater than John,” the Light in turn testifies to John (Mt 11:11 and Lk 7:28).
          True joy comes only with true light.  Even as an idiomatic expression, we say that we feel very light when we are very joyful.  That genuine Joy and that true Light are one in Christ Jesus.  Jesus is the Joy of creation and the Light of the world.  To be enlightened by Jesus is to find real and lasting joy.  To be truly joyful is to bask in the light of Christ.  We may be happy but we are not joyful yet until we are in the Lord.
          But many people dwell in darkness.  Worse, many have darkness in their soul.  We do not only live in a sinful world; sin also may dwell in us.  There is so much darkness within and without us.  What hinders the Light from illuminating not only the world but our souls as well?  Who blocks the Light from shattering the darkness that engulfs not only our planet but all of us in it?  The third Sunday of Advent should move us very deeply unto self-introspection and answer these questions humbly and honestly.  It should also inspire us to remember, pray for, and actually thank those who, like John the Baptist, testify to the Light in the midst of our dark world and dark lives.
          The joy that we receive from welcoming the Light, who is Jesus Himself, into our lives urges us to, like John the Baptist, make way for the same Light.  We are not the Light; our task is to let the true Light shine through us…yes, even and perhaps more so, through our “cracks”.  Not one of us can boast of a perfect life, of a life that has no holes in it; but even through our woundedness, through our “cracks”, the light of Christ can and actually shine to others who need healing and joy.
          The theme of the third Sunday of Advent is “rejoicing” not only because it consoles us in our waiting for the Lord but also because it reminds us to console others.  May we never be joyful while we leave others wallow in misery.  May we not rejoice while we are indifferent to the weeping.  May we bring joy to others, most especially the poor and the downtrodden, by becoming like John – whose name means “God is gracious” – to them.  Let us keep on making way for the Light.
          Last week, the second Sunday of Advent, God broke His prolonged silence with a voice in the desert.  Today, Gaudete Sunday, He breaks the large darkness caused by the absence of the true Light of the world.  God does so by sending the man behind that voice last week.  John does not only cry out in the wilderness, he also points to the Light in the midst of darkness by making a way for Him. 
Let us dispel the darkness in our own selves first, quietly working on the sadness of our own selfishness, hatred, unforgiveness, and indifference.  Then, as Church, let us continue making way for the true Light of the world to shine through every corner of creation by our works of love and peace.
There is so much sadness in the world these days and the darkness that covers it remains large.  This Sunday is given us to find our joy in Jesus always and to remind us that we must do our share in making the world a brighter place to live in.
Be joyful!  But please do not forget to make others joyful, too.


At 9:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Fr. Bob. This reflection reminds me of one of my favorites song "Joy of my Desire"

Joy of my desire, all consuming fire;
Lord of glory, Rose of Sharon,
rare and sweet.

You are now my peace,
Comforter and friend,
wonderful, so beautiful,
You are to me.

I worship You in spirit and in truth.
Lord, I worship You in spirit and in truth.
There will never be a friend as dear to me, as You.


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