Sunday, 15 December 2019

Rejoice while Waiting, Gaudete, 3rd Sunday of Advent Year A

James 5:7-10; Isa 35:1-10; Mt 11:2-11
Today I want to speak about how ALL of Christian life is a type of Advent, a type of waiting, and I want to talk about why this should be a reason to REJOICE.

Today is one of my favourite moments in Advent, and favourite moments in the liturgical year:
Today is ‘Gaudete’ Sunday, a Latin word meaning ‘rejoice’.
As a consequence, we interrupt our Advent purple and I wear, not girly pink, but manly ‘rose’.
We interrupt what might seem like the SADNESS of our Advent waiting, and the Church bids us remember our reasons to rejoice -rejoice even while we wait.
 “Rejoice… the Lord is very near” (Phil 4:4-7, second reading Year C) - the words in our entrance antiphon.

We are in Year A, and our readings this year give us a different focus from Year C:
our reason to have PATIENCE in our waiting (James 5:7).
When we wait for something it’s easy to be IMpatient, to be constantly checking our watch.
“Has Jesus come yet?  No?  How much longer is He going to be?”

Let me suggest a different type of waiting:
A waiting in which we are so filled with gladness at what lies ahead, that we are rejoicing in it EVEN BEFORE it comes.
Children often show us this: 
they can be almost as happy in the build up to Christmas as on Christmas itself.
One of the reasons Children can anticipate this joy is that they TRUST their parents 
-trust that Christmas will come.
We, likewise, need to trust that the greatness of God’s coming will be true.
So, our liturgy today gives us some reminders of why we should trust.

Generally speaking, we trust someone because they have shown themselves to be trustworthy:
the way they have behaved in the PAST shows they are RELIABLE.
Our first reading and Gospel text are given to us today to make that point:
In Isaiah, God prophesied that He would come,
He promised that He would give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf (Isa 35:5), and so on.
In the Gospel, we heard the Lord Jesus point out that this is exactly what He was doing:
The blind saw, the deaf heard, the dumb spoke, the lame walked, etc (Mt 11:5)
The Lord proved that He was the fulfilment of the promise that the Messiah would come.

Then, He said something a little obscure, but that is pivotal for us if WE are to rejoice today:
He said, “Blessed is the man who does not lose faith in me”(Mt 11:6).
If we stop trusting in Him, if we ‘lose faith’ in Him, 
then we lose our reason to rejoice.
Whereas, IF we trust Him, confidently trust Him,
then we can rejoice EVEN WHILE we wait -because we are confident in His coming.
and confident in all He has said He will DO when He comes, namely, put all things right.

God promised in the past, and He was faithful to His promises.
He has SHOWN He is trustworthy.
So, let us be patient while we wait.

It’s a wonderful thing to have been promised something great.
It’s a DELIGHT to know that great thing IS coming.
All of a Christian’s life that this FORWARD-looking dimension, this hope-filled dimension.
If we are faithful, then He will be faithful.
‘Rejoice… the Lord is very near” (Phil 4:4-7, second reading Year C).

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