December 16th is Gaudete Sunday. This is Sunday of Rejoicing. We wait in joyful anticipation -- Jesus is drawing near and we are asked to open our hearts to the joy God gives us and to let that joy radiate from our hearts. Our joy comes from the Father's mercy; He celebrates our return to Him and forgives our sins. Not only that, but His presence will be with us to the end of time. He never moves away from us, even if we move away from Him.
Gospel: Luke 3:10-18
The crowds asked John the Baptist,
"What should we do?"
He said to them in reply,
"Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise."
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
"Teacher, what should we do?"
He answered them,
"Stop collecting more than what is prescribed."
Soldiers also asked him,
"And what is it that we should do?"
He told them,
"Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages."
Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
"I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.
As I read the gospel, I was struck by a vision of all these people from different walks of life crowding around John the Baptist. When they heard him proclaim that the "The Christ" would be coming, they wanted to know what they needed to do in order to be ready for that coming. Just as we often do for a special event, we focus on what we will wear, what we will say and how we will conduct ourselves in order to impress others.
What a surprise it must have been to hear John tell the people that the way to prepare was to free themselves from "self" and focus on leading a life of bearing witness to the joy of obtaining salvation as we travel down the road with Jesus. It is easy to get so involved in our daily lives, that we don't take the time to become deeply involved with our Lord and Savior. May this be a week of deepening involvement with our good and gracious God. Be open and receive all the gifts He has for us.