"Christ is once again calling us."
The third Sunday of Advent is also called “Gaudete Sunday” which in Latin means “rejoice.” It reminds us that this season of advent is a time for rejoicing because the day of the Lord is coming. It is 10 days until Christmas—celebrating the First coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
For this Sunday the Gospel of Matthew brings us back to the narrative where John the Baptist, now in prison, sending his disciples to inquire about the wondrous deeds of the Messiah. "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" John’s disciples asked Jesus who answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me." He must have been perplexed of what Jesus was doing because John the Baptist was expecting that the messiah would free Israel from the Roman yoke. At that time, the Jews were awaiting for the messiah prophesied by the prophets and the Jewish communities were on the lookout for the nature, identity, and activity of the Promised One. So John was not the only one asking “Are you the one?” of which Jesus said to him, as he is saying now to us, you have to have faith in me!
John's question is really the question for hearers of every age, more so in our times. Much like the Jews, we have a preconceived notion of what God should be in our lives; often, expecting and demanding that God conform to our own idea of how He should act, relate to us and respond to our problems and concerns. If He does not meet our expectations, we then begin to doubt His love or worse, question His very existence. Why does God not answer my prayers? Or, if He truly exists why does He allow so much suffering in the world, particularly to me and my family? We are ever faced with circumstances that cause us to say, "How could God love me when He has allowed circumstances as these?" It may have been sickness, financial and relational problems or unanswered prayers. Possibly we do not verbalize this doubt at all, but way down in the recesses of our heart we allow these questions and doubts of, “How could this happen if God really loved me?” to reverberate in our soul. It is this doubt that propels man to rebel against Him and fashion a god to his own liking, and thus relying ever strongly in the god of money, power and pleasure and other idols. In the end, they do not bring us real joy and happiness. For peace and happiness can only be found in the Lord. Jesus says—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Despite our self-praised progress, we find ourselves in a desolate desert. The Israelites when they saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, doubted God and they began to fashion an idol in the shape of a calf for them to worship despite all the wondrous deeds that God has shown them in Egypt and in the wilderness.
When beset with these doubts, there is need to understand what His Word tells us about His goodness and faithfulness rather than understanding Him through our circumstances, feelings and emotions. We must therefore remain vigilant, watchful and discerning so we will recognize Him amidst the topsy-turvy world we ourselves in. The message of His birth, passion and death will more than abundantly prove His infinite love and mercy. God does not say that following Him is easy. On the contrary, we are called to enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. In the end, Jesus is telling us to persevere and keep our faith just us he told the disciples of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord. And now that Christ has gained for us our salvation, there is thus every reason to be joyful for He has made us into a new creation transcending everything that went before, even John himself. By His birth and resurrection, He entitled us to be partakers of His Kingdom on the condition that we positively respond to His invitation, cooperating with His mercy and love.
Christ is once again calling us—Veni! Come to me! Gaudeamus Igitur! (Let us therefore rejoice!) for Christ is in us and with us. Let us therefore approach this Advent Season with faith and courage in the Lord, ever hopeful of His deliverance.
Facebook: Dean Tony La Vina