December 14, 2014 – Third Sunday of Advent – Year B

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On this Gaudete Sunday, we are encouraged to “rejoice” no less than four times. The Entrance Antiphon from Paul’s letter to the Philippians encourages us to “rejoice” because of the nearness of the Lord, a sentiment echoed in the Second Reading. In the First Reading, the prophet exclaims, “I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul.” Not to be outdone, the responsorial psalm completes the medley with an excerpt from Mary’s Magnificat: “My soul rejoices in my God.”

Why rejoice? The beginning of the First Reading gives a hint: “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor…to announce a year of favour from the LORD.” According to Luke’s Gospel (4:16-21), Jesus began his public ministry with this passage, which he announced was fulfilled in him – surely a cause for joy. The use of this passage today, along with the Gospel’s focus on the ministry of John the Baptist, remind us that Advent is as much about preparing to receive Christ the preacher, wonderworker, and suffering Messiah, as it is about his birth.

Still, both the Collect and the Prayer after Communion begin to point us to Christ’s birth, and so we can be forgiven if our preparations for that festival begin to occupy us!