Today is Gaudete Sunday which can be translated as ‘Rejoice’ or ‘delight’. The entrance antiphon of today’s liturgy introduces the theme, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.' I am sure you remember singing this old favourite from 'Scripture and Song.' Unfortunately, I can’t share it with you because I don’t have a recording of it myself. Perhaps you can sing it to yourself as you go about your day. It would be a wonderful prayer and reminder.
Today we light the Rose-coloured candle on our advent wreath in joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming.
Jesus in our Gospel taken from Matthew 11:2-11, tells the disciples of John the Baptist to go back and tell him, 'happy is the one who does not lose faith in me.'
Sometimes we can have unreal expectations of people. We want them to be and react according to our point of view. Sometimes we can see a huge potential in them and we want to encourage them. Sometimes we are disappointed because they don’t live up to what we had hoped. It seems, John the Baptist having a lot of time to think in prison begins to have some kind of uncertainty about ‘Jesus’. He needs reassurance and sends his disciples to ask him…’Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else? John had perhaps expected someone more like himself- someone more into a fire and brimstone approach. Jesus reassures John’s disciples by telling them about ‘the blind seeing, the lame walking and the lepers being cleansed. The ministry of Jesus was producing abundant fruit. His actions were speaking for themselves.
The word 'happy' in the above quote from Jesus, introduces for us the gift of joy. A joy connected with contentment, blessing and being at peace with one’s life and the world around us. It is so easy to be weighed down by what is happening in our world and in our own lives. Our unreal expectations can get in the way. Why can’t the world see things the way I see them? Why can’t other people see things the way I see them? Why do I struggle to live the way I really want to?
John the Baptist too, incredibly passionate and committed to a certain way began to wonder about the direction Jesus was going in. His more severe and unworldly way was being replaced by a way of healing and mercy.
I suppose for all of us it is important not to turn Christ into the sum of our own thoughts and expectations. I read a book a number of years ago entitled ‘The God of Surprises’. We need to be open to being surprised by him, to be challenged by him. To allow Christ to be Christ and not to manipulate his words and actions according to our own world view.
One of the greatest signs of our faith is the joy that we can have in living for the Lord. Instead of being anxious and preoccupied with all the evil in our world and with the terrible things that happen, we can radiate the joy of knowing the presence of God. Let us rejoice and be glad! May the desert and the parched land within us exult. Lord Jesus, help us to keep faith in you.
You may like to listen to 'Holy Land' track one from the album 'Holy Land'.
Blessings on your week.