Third Sunday of Advent – Year B

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Thomas R. McCarthy, O.S.A.
St. Rita Shrine
Chicago, Illinois

Readings
Is 61:1-2a, 10-11
Lk 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thes 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

“I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.” We hear this from the prophet Isaiah. In the Responsorial Psalm, we hear, “My soul rejoices in my God.” From Thessalonians, we hear, “Rejoice always.” On this Third Sunday of our Advent journey, we rejoice. Gaudete is the Latin word which means rejoice.

The pink candle of our Advent wreath is lit. We wear colorful Rose vestments at Mass. Why do we rejoice today? We rejoice because we are almost at our goal. The goal is Jesus Christ coming into our hearts again this Christmas Season. We rejoice because we know our preparation is continuing this Advent and we will soon arrive at Christmas.

We encounter John the Baptist in today’s Gospel. The religious leaders questioned him as to who he was. Was he the Christ? Was he Elijah or the Prophet? He says no to all of these questions. “Who are you?” John replied he was “the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” I am not worthy to untie the straps of his sandals.

John is a man who proclaimed that Jesus was Lord from the womb to the tomb. From the moment he leapt in his mother’s womb, when Mary came into the presence of his mother Elizabeth, to his death by the cowardly Herod, John proclaimed Jesus. John was chosen by God from among all people to be the one to do the proclaiming. John said yes and was faithful to his calling. John is an example to us all and one who challenges us to proclaim who Jesus is in our world today.

Our world needs Jesus. Our world needs the love and reconciliation that Jesus so freely preaches and gives us. How do we give Jesus to the world? Through the likes of modern day John the Baptists. Guess who the modern John the Baptists are in our world. You and me! How are we called to proclaim who Jesus is today to a world that is in such need of Jesus? We are called to proclaim Jesus by what we say and do and by what we don’t say and don’t do. We are called to be radical like John. We may not wear camel hair, eating locusts and wild honey, crying out in the desert, but we are called to proclaim Jesus by the way we live our lives. What a challenge. What a joy. What a privilege!

My brothers and sisters, we are in very difficult days because of the pandemic. We can give up and throw up our arms saying I can’t do it anymore. Where is God? How can this be? What should we do? Or we can trust when it is crazy to trust, like Mary and Joseph. We can act when we think we can do nothing more. We can proclaim who Jesus is like John the Baptist. What a challenge and what an opportunity. We can change the world by changing our little part of the world. We can go out into the “deserts” of our day and bring Jesus who brings refreshment and relief to a parched land. We can do it if we say yes. How are you willing to say yes?

The Eucharist is the food for our journey into the desert. Jesus went into the desert to meet John at the Jordan River. Jesus goes into the desert to encounter each one of us and walk with us as we proclaim Jesus to a world that so needs Him. My sisters and brothers, let us follow the example of John the Baptist and proclaim Jesus to the world. Let us be glad and rejoice for God is the joy of my soul!