We take a break from the purple for a week and we light the pink\rose candle and as we rejoice in the nearness of the Lord’s coming at Christmas, it is also known as Gaudete Sunday from the first word in the entrance antiphon, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.”
As we enter into the readings we start once again in the prophet Isaiah. In this reading Isaiah is describing his mission from God, he’s been sent to bring glad tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to captives and release prisoners. Now we should remember that Isaiah is talking to people who have just been in exile in Babylon. This mission statement is picked up by Jesus in his live and is something that we should all strive to do. The second half of this reading might be personification of the people of Israel, as the Lord has done great things for them but hasn’t done much in return but the Lord will bring forth justice and praise spring forth before all nations. We can look at this half as an individual as well; this is a bit like the Magnificat, My soul rejoice in God my Savior for God has look upon us with favor. The Canticle of Mary, The Magnificat, is one of the options for the Psalms this week as well “My soul rejoices in my God.”
Turning to the second reading we head from the first letter of Paul to the folks in Thessalonica Paul begins with our theme this week Rejoice always. It is widely believed that this is the first book of the New Testament to be written down. In this reading Paul is giving a rundown of how Christians should be living our lives. Rejoice always, pray unceasingly give thanks, test everything retaining what is good and refraining from evil. Paul was writing to these people with the idea that Jesus would be coming back sometime soon so much of this advice seems absurd to us today who has the time to unceasingly pray in the world today. It is fitting that we hear these words as we grow closer to Christmas since Paul was getting that we must have a reason to be joyful since we know that we are waiting in hope for Christ to come again at Christmas but also to come again for real.
As we reach the Gospel we once again hear about John the Baptist but it is from the beginning-ish of the Gospel of John this week. John was sent by God to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. In the reading the Pharisees and Levites came out to talk with John and they asked him many questions. Are you the Christ? Elijah? A prophet? John reply no to all of them. Then they ask “Then who are you?” to which John replies using Isaiah’s words “I am the voice calling our in the wilderness” This is a question we should all ask ourselves this week “Who are we?” Are we joy filled like Isaiah and Paul talked or like John out there evangelizing the faith? For so many of us at times we would say sure that sounds like us but not all the time.