GOSPEL REFLECTION: 3rd Sunday of Advent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: John 1:6-8,19-28
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him. “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”
Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the Prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me, I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
We now celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent. And the third candle of Advent which symbolizes JOY is now lit. Today’s Liturgical color which is rose is significantly different to give emphasis on the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming. The third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete , a Latin word meaning “Rejoice.” We rejoice because the Lord is near. And our salvation therefore is drawing nearer. We joyfully await the coming of the Lord.
On this Sunday’s Liturgy, we are being invited to rejoice.God wills us to be happy. If we have no joy in our hearts, then something is wrong with our spirituality because ours is a religion of joy. In John 15:11 Jesus said: “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” It is safe to say that Jesus was a joyful person. He attended dinners. In fact, the very first miracle Jesus performed in his ministry here on earth happened at a wedding at Cana where he transformed water into wine.
But how can we rejoice amidst the many sufferings we see in the world? Well, the joy that Jesus was talking about is much more than superficial and fleeting happiness or pleasure. Having fun is different from having joy. Joy is something that is inside our hearts. It is a way of life. Joy is a pilgrim. It is a journey. Pope Francis said that Christian joy is something we cannot buy because it is a gift from God. The Pope likened this experience of joy to that of a mother embracing her baby after childbirth because it is a joy “purified” by suffering of labor. The joy of Christians, he said, is a “joy in hope.” Therefore, when life’s trials are severe, our hope seems dim and our future dismal, we can still have that Christian joy which can be found in our deep sense of trust in God – that everything is going to be alright. A certain Leslie Weatherhead says “The opposite of joy is not sorrow, It is lack of trust (or unbelief). It was the joy before him that allowed Jesus to endure the suffering of the cross. Likewise, it is also our deep sense of joy that will allow us to overcome whatever trials and tribulations we encounter in life. Joy is not only there in happy times. It is the strength within in the most trying times. For St. Paul joy is possible even amidst adverse circumstances, like suffering and persecution. The second reading from the 1 Thessalonians says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Real joy is found in the presence of God and on how firm is our trust in Him.
Today’s Gospel tells us that joy starts from within. We find joy when we allow ourselves to have a real conversion of the heart. This is what St. John the Baptist is trying to impart to us. A pure and a contrite heart brings real joy in us. When we make the presence of God felt not only within us but also in our caring and compassion for others we become harbingers of God’s joy.
Story (Author Unknown)
Reggie’s brother gave him a car as a Christmas present. On Christmas eve Reggie came out of his office, and saw a boy admiring his shiny new car. “Is this your car, Mister?” he asked. Reggie nodded in affirmation, “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.” The boy was surprised. “You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn’t cost you anything? Boy, I wish….” The boy hesitated. Reggie knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like the one Reggie has. But what the lad said was far beyond Reggie’s expectation. “I wish,” the boy went on, “that I could be a brother like that.”
For a few seconds words failed Reggie and then he impulsively added, “Would you like to take a ride in my car?”
“Oh yes, I’d love that.” After a short ride, the boy turned towards Reggie. His eyes were glowing and he said, “Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?” Reggie smiled a little. He thought he understood what the boy wanted. He wanted to show it off to his neighbors that he could ride home in a big car. But Reggie was wrong again.
“Will you stop where those two steps are?” the boy asked. He ran up the steps. In a little while Reggie, heard him coming back, but he wasn’t coming fast. He was carrying his little brother who was physically challenged. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car. “There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn’t cost him a cent. And someday I’m going to give you one just like it…then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I’ve been trying to tell you about.
Reggie got out and lifted the boy to the front seat of his car. His brother whose eyes were gleaming with joy climbed in beside him and the three of them embarked on a memorable Christmas ride.
That Christmas Eve, Reggie learned many lessons from the boy. Now he understood what Jesus meant when he said, “It is more blessed to give.” It is only when we put others first before us that we’ll find real joy. After all, JOY means. Putting J-esus as our priority. O-thers come second before Y-ourself.