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Friday, 15 December 2023 11:26

Rejoice! The Lord is near!

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” he not only declared, but declared quite openly, “I am not the Christ.” “Well then,” they asked “are you Elijah?” “I am not.” He said. “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?” So he said, “I am, as Isaiah prophesied:
a voice that cries in the wilderness:
make a straight way for the Lord.”

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him: “Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the Prophet?” John replied, “I baptise with water; but there stands among you - unknown to you - the one who is coming after me, and I am not fit to undo the straps of his sandals.” This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising. (John 1:6-8, 19-28)

Reflection - Rejoice! The Lord is near

Today is Gaudete Sunday. The name comes from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon in Latin, which means, ‘Rejoice’. The full text of the antiphon is: Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice! Indeed, the Lord is near.

That is what we are rejoicing in: God’s nearness to us. We recognise that nearness in the presence of Jesus, born so long ago, and his continuing presence through the Holy Spirit in our lives now. We rejoice that God has always been with us, whether we realised it or not. God has never left us.

Advent is very much about a fresh discovery of God’s presence and grace in our lives, in our own moment of history.

This is what we are celebrating on Christmas Day, too. Christ is God’s great present to the human family. Christmas celebrates not only the birth of Jesus in one moment of human history, but his continual birth in us so that he may be present in every moment of human history.

As we wait for the final coming of Jesus we, like John the Baptist, are called to be witnesses to the Light. We do that best by taking up the mission of the prophet in the first reading, just as Jesus did. The Lord has anointed us to bring Good News to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison and a year of favour from the Lord. God trusts us to do that. We have been commissioned by the Church through our Baptism to do that.

Our faith in (that is, living relationship with) Christ is meant to be lived openly, generously and graciously, at the service of our brothers and sisters in the world by being the living presence of Jesus in our day and age. 

You can download and print our prayers and reflections for this Sunday.

pdf Celebrating At Home 3rd Sunday of Advent [PDF] (1.05 MB)                             
default Celebrating At Home 3rd Sunday of Advent [ePub] (3.25 MB)

 

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