POPE FRANCIS’ REFLECTION ON THE 3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B.
14 December 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In recent Sundays the liturgy has emphasized what it means to assume an attitude of vigilance and what preparing the way of the Lord entails, concretely. On this Third Sunday of Advent, called the “Sunday of joy”, the liturgy invites us to welcome the spirit with which all this happens, that is, precisely, joy. Saint Paul invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord, by assuming three attitudes. Listen carefully: three attitudes. First, constant joy; second, steadfast prayer; third, continuous thanksgiving. Constant joy, steadfast prayer and continuous thanksgiving.
The first attitude, constant joy: “Rejoice always” (1 Thess 5:16), Saint Paul says. This means always being joyful, even when things do not go according to our wishes; but there is that profound joy, which is peace: that too is joy; it is within. And peace is a joy “at the ground level”, but it is a joy. Distress, difficulties and suffering pass through each person’s life, we are all familiar with them; and so often the reality that surrounds us seems to be inhospitable and barren, similar to the desert in which the voice of John the Baptist resonated, as today’s Gospel passage recalls (cf. Jn 1:23). But the very words of the Baptist reveal that our joy rests on a certainty, that this desert is inhabited: “among you” — he says — “stands one whom you do not know” (v. 26). It refers to Jesus, the Father’s envoy who comes, as Isaiah stresses, “to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (61:1-2). These words, which Jesus will speak in his discourse at the synagogue of Nazareth (cf. Lk 4:16-19), clarify that his mission in the world consists in the liberation from sin and from the personal and social slavery that it produces. He has come to the earth to restore to mankind the dignity and freedom of the Children of God — which only he can communicate — and thereby to give joy.
The joy which characterizes the awaiting of the Messiah is based on steadfast prayer: this is the second attitude. Saint Paul says: “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). By praying we can enter a stable relationship with God, who is the source of true joy. A Christian’s joy is not bought; it cannot be bought. It comes from faith and from the encounter with Jesus Christ, the reason for our happiness. And when we are rooted in Christ, the closer we are to Jesus, the more we find inner peace, even among everyday contradictions. For this reason a Christian, having encountered Jesus, cannot be a prophet of misfortune, but a witness and herald of joy. A joy to share with others; an infectious joy that renders the journey of life less toilsome.
The third attitude Paul points to is continuous thanksgiving, which is grateful love towards God. Indeed, he is very generous to us, and we are invited to always recognize his beneficence, his merciful love, his patience and goodness, thus living in unceasing thanksgiving.
Joy, prayer and gratitude are three attitudes that prepare us to experience Christmas in an authentic way. Joy, prayer and gratitude. Everyone together, let us say: joy, prayer and gratitude. [The people repeat.] Once again! [The people repeat.] In this last period of the Season of Advent, let us entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. She is a “cause of our joy”, not only because she begot Jesus, but because she keeps directing us to him
14 December 2014
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Children, Dear Boys and Girls,
For two weeks already, the Season of Advent has been calling us to spiritual vigilance in preparing the way for the Lord who is to come. On this Third Sunday, the Liturgy sets forth another interior attitude by which to live out this time of waiting for the Lord, that is joy. The joy of Jesus, as that sign [held up in St Peter’s Square] reads: “Joy is at home in Jesus”. That’s it, it proposes Jesus’ joy to us!
The human heart desires joy. We all desire joy, every family, every people aspires to happiness. But what is the joy that the Christian is called to live out and bear witness to? It is the joy that comes from the closeness of God, from his presence in our life. From the moment Jesus entered into history, with his birth in Bethlehem, humanity received the seed of the Kingdom of God, like the soil receives the seed, the promise of a future harvest. There is no need to look further! Jesus has come to bring joy to all people for all time. It is not just a hopeful joy or a joy postponed until paradise: as if here on earth we are sad but in paradise we will be filled with joy. No! It is not that, but a joy already real and tangible now, because Jesus himself is our joy, and with Jesus joy finds its home, as your sign there says: joy is at home in Jesus. All of us, let us say it: “Joy is at home in Jesus”. Once more: “Joy is at home in Jesus”. And without Jesus is there joy? No! Well done! He is living, He is the Risen One, and He works in us and among us especially with the Word and the Sacraments.
We who are baptized, children of the Church, we are called to accept ever anew the presence of God among us and to help others to discover Him, or to rediscover what they have forgotten. It is a most beautiful mission, like that of John the Baptist: to direct the people to Christ — not to ourselves! — for He is the destination to which the human heart tends when it seeks joy and happiness.
In today’s liturgy St Paul again indicates the conditions for being “missionaries of joy”: praying constantly, always giving thanks to God, giving way to his Spirit, seeking the good and avoiding evil (cf. 1 Thess 5:17-22). If this becomes our lifestyle, then the Good News will be able to enter so many homes and help people and families to rediscover that in Jesus lies salvation. In Him it is possible to find interior peace and the strength to face different life situations every day, even the heaviest and most difficult. No one has ever heard of a sad saint with a mournful face. This is unheard of! It would be a contradiction. The Christian’s heart is filled with peace because he knows how to place his joy in the Lord even when going through the difficult moments in life. To have faith does not mean to never have difficult moments but to have the strength to face those moments knowing that we are not alone. And this is the peace that God gives to his children.
With her gaze turned to Christmas already close at hand, the Church invites us to bear witness that Jesus is not a person of the past; He is the Word of God who today continues to illuminate the path of mankind; his gestures — the Sacraments — are the manifestation of the tenderness, consolation and love that the Father bears for every human being. May the Virgin Mary, “Cause of our joy”, render us ever more joyous in the Lord, who comes to free us from the many forms of interior and exterior slavery.
3RD SUNDAY MASS PRAYERS AND READINGS YEAR B, CLICK HERE
3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B REFLECTION HOMILY, GAUDETE OR REJOICE SUNDAY, CLICK HERE, HERE, AND HERE.
SEE AS WELL: “ADVENT 3: GOD WANTS US TO BE HAPPY”