THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
BECAUSE HE HAS ANNOINTED ME
TO BRING GLAD TIDINGS TO THE POOR.
The words of today’s Alleluia versicle from Isaiah and quoted in the gospel of St. Luke capture well the joy filled spirit of The Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. Particularly the words glad tidings signal the joyful anticipation of CHRISTMAS and its imminent arrival. The first reading declares that God sends forth “glad tidings” and
Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return…singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.
Just so, it is OK, then, to open one eye to the decorations and parties. The words of an old “Negro” spiritual come to mind: “Oh Lord, I can’t sit down. My soul is so happy that I can’t sit down!” After all, who wouldn’t be glad if real justice has finally been delivered.
But wait! Before we blindfold ourselves and rush over to take a whack at the Christmas Donkey Piñata, let’s not lose sight of the gospel today, which reminds us that the Baptizer is still crying out, “Make straight the way of the Lord!” There is still Advent soul-searching to do and we would do ourselves a disfavor if we were to pass over St. Paul’s challenge, “Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
And though it is already Gaudete Sunday (and the clergy are decked out in “rose”), we still need to wait on the Lord. Most of us would wait forever for something truly worth our while. Children at home or at school can learn one of the most important lessons of their lives by a caring adult who shows them how to plant a seed, BE PATIENT, and enjoy watching it poke through the dirt, produce a first leaf, and then the glorious flower—worth the while. We WAIT nine months for a new human being to see first light, definitely worth the while. For other things we can “hardly wait,” the end is SO worth the while—the return of a loved one, the rendering of true justice, the end of yet another war—truly worth the wait!
Waiting for Jesus is an art. Monks, nuns, and mystics have specialized in it. For those who have developed the art of waiting on the Lord, it is possible to wait on him and to do last minute shopping at the same time. Different from walking and chewing gum, an abiding ability to wait on the Lord and to do whatever other things at the same time requires something so simple and yet so challenging—”to ponder all things in your heart”—this gift and talent was predicated of the Blessed Mother by St. Luke the Evangelist. In our remaining days of Advent, let us go to her to acquire her expertise in waiting on the Lord and in giving Him, his hope and promise, his salvation, to a weary world. And so, rejoicing with you at the news that our God is coming with his power, with you I wait on the Lord at His coming.