After last week’s big celebration of the Parish Marian Consecration on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the Church invites us anew to rejoice, as this Sunday is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word which means “Rejoice!”
In today’s readings, we hear the prophet Zephaniah exhorting God’s people to “shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem!” (cf. Zephaniah 3:14). In the Second Reading, saint Paul tells us that he wants us to be happy and not only for a moment but “always happy in the Lord.” (cf. Philippians 4:4) Why should we rejoice? Why should we be happy?
The Gospel tells us that a feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were thinking that John the Baptist might be the Christ. The people of Israel have been waiting for the Messiah for hundreds of years. And here comes a man who preaches the Good News. Could he be the Messiah? Clearly, John the Baptist declares that he isn’t the Christ and he announces the Good News of the coming of the one who will “baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (cf. Luke 3:16) Truly, the coming of Christ is a reason for joy!
How are we preparing for the coming of the Lord? Are we busy buying gifts, preparing the menu for the big Christmas meal, etc.? Surely, we await the celebration of Christmas when we commemorate the first coming of Christ, but if Christ comes in a minute, in an hour, later in the day, or tomorrow, am I ready to face Him and welcome Him with joy? Saint Paul tells us that “the Lord is very near!” (cf. Philippians 4:4) Let us continue to prepare the room of our hearts for the Lord to dwell. He gives himself to us in an ever-new way. It is also his joy to come into our hearts and make his dwelling there. As Zephaniah says in his prophecy: “He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zephaniah 3:18)
Let us then rejoice for the Lord is near!