Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent – a day meant for rejoicing because the Lord is near.
At mass these words were proclaimed at the beginning of the First Reading: “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted…” Isaiah 61:1-2
If you have not heard the story of Helen Johnson and police officer William Stacy, the link is right here. In a world full of seemingly bad news – death, destruction, devastation and more – we are given this story at a perfect moment. Who needs a homily? This is it.
As we make our way around the bend in the road that is the Third Sunday of Advent, we change our liturgical color from violet to rose, and we are reminded to rejoice. This rejoicing is our fuel as we watch and wait for the Lord. In our rejoicing however, it is important to remember just what glad tidings might mean.
We start out with this word…. εὐαγγελίζω. What? OK, fair enough, Isiah would not have been speaking Greek, but if we transport ourselves to first century Palestine, the place where Jesus is about to be born, that is how we might hear “glad tidings.” This is important in the context of today’s Gospel, in which John the Evangelist speaks to us about John the Baptist. Yes, the scraggly looking dude who ate locusts and honey, walking around the desert in a shmatte, was bringing εὐαγγελίζω. He foretold Jesus from before his birth and he did it in his adult life – and most people did not pay attention. Many of us may believe, with all good intentions, that we would certainly notice Jesus, but do we?
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