Today is “Gaudete Sunday.” We are called to rejoice at the coming of the Lord. But what does it mean to rejoice at the coming of the Son of God? First of all, we are reminded of God’s endless mercy and love. While we were still sinners, He sent his Son to ransom us from the powers of sin and evil. Secondly, we are set free: free to love as God loved us, free to work for the kingdom that is gratuitously given us, and free to embrace one another with the very same warmth God embraces us.
Let us now look into today’s readings. Imagine yourself in a situation of struggle with no outcome, and immediately you hear the reassuring voice of the Lord telling you that He is coming to rescue you! This is the message the people of Israel hear from the Lord in their exile. The Lord is coming to vindicate them and all who will sharing the faith of Abraham and the promise of Israel. This is the source of their joy and that of us today. However, St. James reminds us that to participate in the joy of the Lord, we have to remain firm in our faith. While the joy of the Lord is freely given and shared by the Lord himself, it takes openness and determination on the part of the disciples to participate in that joy. This means that the joy of the coming of the Lord is not a cheap joy that can just be granted. It requires patience, abnegation, focus on Jesus, and readiness to engage in God’s adventure.
The third reason we have to rejoice is that the Lord is near. Christmas is ten days from now. We all feel the breeze it brings in every corner of the street, every home and wherever we can see the signs for it. As a matter of fact, while the Lord is near with Christmas, it would be misleading on our part to think of him being near only because of Christmas. He has already told us that the kingdom is at hand, and that he will always be with us. What are those other ways we can experience the Lord being near for us? Here are some ways we can consider: each time we pray, each time we come to Mass, each time we perform a kind act for someone, the Lord is near.
Finally, let us keep in mind that St. Paul writes these sentences to Philippians, inviting them to rejoice in the Lord for he is near, from his prison cell. He understands that the suffering he endures will not be compared to the joy that awaits at the coming of the Lord. Today’s invitation to rejoice is therefore a reminder that we have the control to take things either negatively or positively when things are not going well in our life. I find myself confronted to this challenge: what is out there or in me that holds me in negative spirit as to reject the joy that the Lord is bringing to me? The answer to that question will constitute the beginning of the new journey of and to true freedom for and with Jesus.
As we rejoice in the Lord who is near, let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family.