Third Sunday of Advent (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

I have waited for buses. I have waited for trains and I have waited for planes. But nothing beats waiting for a boat. When it is first seen, it appears as a speck in the horizon. That first sight of the boat is an exciting and a happy one. The excitement builds up as the boat approaches the shore and grows bigger. They are here! They are arriving. The same excitement is mirrored among the passengers as they first see the shore, and as they come nearer, they see the people waving on the wharf. The docking procedure is merely an anti-climax.

Action starter: One of life’s killjoys is discontentment. Do you appreciate the natural and supernatural gifts you already have?

This might explain why the Church has seen fit to make the Third Sunday of Advent as rejoicing day or Gaudete Sunday. As an altar boy, I have often wondered about this, why not the fourth? The image of waiting for a boat explains it. We rejoice because the day of salvation is near. The first reading from Isaiah says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God (Is. 61:10).”

The Gospel this Sunday contains the declaration of John the Baptist, “Among you stands one whom you do not know, even whose sandal I am not worthy to untie (Jn. 1:26).” We rejoice because God is among us. God-in-Jesus has come among us two thousand years ago. We celebrate His coming every Christmas day. God continues to be among us today in many ways, perhaps as John says, in ways we do not know. Jesus is present today and He is most visible in the Holy Eucharist and in the faces of the poor.

The Christian spirit is that of joy. As St. Paul tells the Thessalonians in the second reading “Rejoice always (1 Thes. 5:16).” What is this Christian joy? Is the Christian joyful because he is exempted from troubles and crises in life? No, not even the Blessed Mother and the apostles and saints had this privilege. In fact, they had to face persecutions. The Christian disciple is joyful even in the midst of trials.

Christian joy is not based on things that are passing. It is being secure in God. Christian joy is based on the conviction that God is around and ultimately in charge . It is based on the belief that as we do our part the best way we can, all will be well. Although we engage ourselves in secular and temporal affairs, we can also take a look at ourselves from a distance and say, all this will pass, God will take care of whatever is lacking in our efforts. In this sense, the Christian disciple retains a sense of humor. We can be serious about our daily affairs but we can also laugh at our follies knowing that God continues to care for us in spite of our foibles and shortcomings.

God must be saying, “Why don’t you ever learn? I already showed you the way to live. I sent you my Son, and still you are slow to learn .” I recall the mother who was scolding her daughter while bandaging her scraped knee, “I told you to be careful, see?” Then she let her run and play again. The caring mother did not prohibit her daughter to play just because she fell down. With a kiss and a prayer, she let her go, secure in her mother’s love. God is like that. God cares. God sometimes shakes His head at the way we have made life miserable for ourselves and others. Through His messengers or prophets, God tells us, “Don’t hurt yourselves. Help those in need. Share with others. Stop that.” And He allows the world to keep on turning. We continue working, playing, praying, thinking, loving, singing, and dancing, until God says, “Come home. Time to go to bed. Time to rest.”

With a God like that, shouldn’t we rejoice?