This coming Sunday is the 3rd Sunday in Advent, known as Guadete Sunday – Rejoice Sunday. Divine joy is the very nature of God – creative; like an overflowing fountain – a fountain fullness. A joy that wants to be shared in wider and wider circles. A joy that asks us to join in the universal shout for joy. The words of the introit of the Mass are the hallmark of Guadette Sunday: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: rejoice.” The refrain of the Psalm proclaim: “My soul rejoices in the Lord.” The second reading (1 Thes 5:16-24) begins, “Rejoice always.”
Last Sunday, the Gospel reading from Mark portrays John the Baptist in the role of the great herald of the long-awaited Messiah, both foretold by the prophet Isaiah. Yet…the scene is in the wilderness, the authorities are on their way to investigate John, and the core message is “repent.” And now we shift gears to arrive at Gaudete Sunday and we hear:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be 4 through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; 5 the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. 12 But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, 17 because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. (John 1:6-8, 19-28)
John the Evangelist, at the beginning of the Fourth Gospel, begins to explain the reason for joy: he fulfillment of the Prophets is at hand. As Ezekiel had foretold, after a history of bad shepherd (the Kings of Judah and Israel), God himself will come to be the Good Shepherd. The words of Ezekiel proclaim: “I myself will search…examine…deliver…lead…bring them back…pasture…give them peace.” (Ezek 34: 11-15) And now as John proclaims: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” – or more literally, “pitched his tent among us.”
And that is Good News. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say again: rejoice.”
If you would like to read a full commentary on the Johannine passage, you can find it here.