III SUNDAY OF ADVENT
isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; 1 thessalonians 5:16-24; john 1:6-8, 19-28
a king instructed his gardener to plant trees to represent prosperity, beauty, victory, strength, duty and joy to show the world that the king had made his reign fruitful. the gardener planted a palm to symbolise joy.
when the king saw the palm, he said: «i thought you would typify joy with a flowering tree like the tulip or magnolia. how can the palm symbolize joy?»
the gardener replied: «flowering trees get their nourishment from open sources in orchards or forests. i found this palm in a desert; its roots had found some hidden spring far beneath the burning surface. then, thought i, highest joy has a foundation people cannot see and a source they cannot comprehend.»
how true that is! the foundation and source of our joy is GOD.
that’s the emphasis of the readings on «gaudete sunday» which urges us to rejoice… in the LORD.
the first reading from isaiah invites us to rejoice in GOD because he clothes us with salvation and justice. this invitation is heart-warming because we are the broken-hearted GOD heals; the poor who receive the glad tidings; the captives he liberates.
in the second reading, paul urges the thessalonians to rejoice because the one who calls them is faithful.
in the gospel, john’s response to the pharisees highlights the primary reason for our joy: JESUS has already come into our world as our saviour.
the readings also give us a mission: to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and—above all—to testify to the light.
john gipson was listening to his car radio. a singer was belting out «i can’t get no satisfaction.» gipson didn’t like the song. he changed the station but thought about the many people who cannot find satisfaction and joy; and wondered whether they even know where to look.
we know where to find joy! let us rejoice in the LORD!