December 17, 2023 — Third Sunday of Advent
IS 61:1-2A, 10-11; LK 1:46-50, 53-54; 1 THES 5:16-24; JN 1:6-8, 19-28
Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” is a Latin word, meaning “rejoice.” The Christian steward should be characterized by a spirit of rejoicing. The more we embrace the stewardship way of life, the more we will be filled with joy.
Today as Advent begins to draw to a close and Christmas approaches, we should ask ourselves who and what we rejoice in.
Our First Reading, from Isaiah, expresses a fitting motto for the Christian steward. “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.” It is God Who is the source of our joy and contentment — not things or achievements or comfort, but our relationship with God. This is why stewards can share so freely of their time, talents, and material possessions — because ultimately we are not attached to these things. We recognize them as good gifts from our loving Father, but we are attached to the Giver of the gifts, not the gifts themselves. This allows for great freedom in life and the capacity for great joy in the Lord.
This freedom in the Lord is also the reason we can do as St. Paul instructs in his letter to the Thessalonians, in today’s Second Reading. He tells us to, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God.” As Christian stewards, we know that no matter what the ups and downs of life bring, our life is not our own — it is a gift from the Lord, and we can rest in full confidence that He will take care of us. When we offer every aspect of our life back to Him in grateful trust, every action we take, no matter how small, becomes a prayer. Our very lives become a testimony to the goodness of God.
We can become like John the Baptist, in today’s Gospel passage from the Book of John. We read this description of the prophet: “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light… He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.” This is our calling, too, to testify to the Light, our wonderful Savior by the way we make use of the time, talent, and treasure He has entrusted to our care. Our actions and our priorities themselves give testimony to all that God has done in our lives. What a privilege!
When God Himself is the source of our joy, it cannot be taken away from us. There is still time, this Advent season, to clear away any “clutter” in our lives that may take our focus away from Him. Let us strive to detach from any of these things so that we can be free to truly rejoice in God on Christmas Day.