Rejoice! On this Third Sunday of Advent, the Universal Church takes time to rejoice. And we have plenty of reason to rejoice- “the Lord is near.”
In twelve days, we will celebrate Our Savior’s first coming at Christmas, and so during this Advent season of preparation, penance, and anticipation/expectation, we take time to rejoice.
At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there are many visible signs that point to our rejoicing: the presence of the Eucharist, the burning rose-colored candle on the advent wreath, the flowers in the sanctuary, and the priest wearing the rose color vestments.
The readings for this Mass set the tone for rejoicing. In the second reading St. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to “rejoice always,” and we ourselves must take the Apostle’s exhortation to heart.
For Christians, the Lord is the source of our joy, and we must remain close to Him in our prayers. Follow what the Apostle says, “pray without ceasing.”
It is in prayer, that we stay in loving dialogue with our God, and through prayer we come to know His supreme will for us. And this is where our joy and ultimate happiness lies: in doing the will of God. Whenever we do the Lord’s will; while at the same time refraining from doing whatever is evil, this is how we attain holiness and true happiness.
True and everlasting joy escapes us when we fail to do the will of God, especially when we commit sin, and so it is for our own supernatural and spiritual good that we avoid sin and strive to do God’s will in our lives. And we can only know God’s will through our prayer and having a close friendship with Him.
As the prophet Isaiah said: “in my God is the joy of my soul.” And for each one of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, God is the only joy of our souls. In staying close to God – joy is ours – a joy in its true sense, a joy deep within our souls, and we will give witness to this joy to others who will be affected by it.
Our Lord is calling us to rejoice, and so as stated in the entrance antiphon for Holy Mass, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice! The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4-5).
In His name,
Father Edwin Perez