‘Rejoice! The Lord is near.’
The readings on this Gaudete (‘Rejoice!’) Sunday are full of encouragement, resonating with joyful hope as we draw closer to the birthday of Jesus: God’s Son coming to live amongst us. Isaiah, Mary, and John the Baptist all bear joyful witness to what God has done and will do for his people.
Isaiah (First Reading) announces the coming of the anointed one: a cause for rejoicing. He will bring freedom, healing and good news to the people. Images of clothing bodies and growing seeds celebrate God’s activity in the world and in our lives.
Mary’s Magnificat is a joyful song of praise to God, her Saviour who is rich in mercy. (Psalm)
St Paul (Second Reading) encourages us to be guided by the Holy Spirit in all that we do; we are to give thanks for all things to God, and to pray constantly. Paul urges us to be happy always, because Christ is faithful to his promise and will not fail us.
The focus of the Gospel is John the Baptist, who bears witness, testifying to the true identity of ‘the light’: Jesus himself. John answers the priests’ questions about his own identity and ministry, then announces that the Saviour they seek, Jesus, is already amongst them, though ‘unknown to them’.
As we continue preparing for Christmas, we rejoice that Jesus is already in our hearts and lives. Let’s pray to receive the graces needed to announce his message and presence through our attitudes, actions and words.