Last Updated:Saturday - 12/11/2010
December 10, 2007
Rejoice! God attends to each and every person
Scripture For Advent
Guadete! (Rejoice!) This Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. Let us look at the readings to discover why.
Isaiah shows us how Israel as a land endured many physical and political hardships that caused much pain and suffering for its people.
Isaiah is aware of this but he points to a time when all will be well again. The culture and experience of sadness and death will become a culture and experience of joy and life. The land will flourish, the people will be strengthened and God will be in their midst.
The people will be part of a great exodus, just like the exodus from Egypt, but this time, it will be from slavery in Babylon. This exodus will not just be a physical reality, but a spiritual one as well. The people will finally be free to return to God, in his holy Temple on Mount Zion and, most importantly, in their hearts.
The psalmist also focuses on this theme. He praises God who releases the people from their physical ailments such as hunger, blindness, deafness and physical confinement. He also recognizes the suffering of those who mourn or who have been in someway harmed by the wicked.
It is clear from the psalm God is ever present to his people. He is so close that he can see what each person needs to be fully restored to a happy state. God does not prefer one person to the next. God attends to each and every person according to their needs.
James in his letter reiterates the hope and surety of Isaiah and the psalmist. James urges all the faithful to be ready for the coming of the Lord so that he will reward them for their way of life.
This might involve a certain amount of patience and tolerance. People can be swayed or negatively influenced by others and this is a real temptation for Christians in the world. However, without temptation there is no virtue.
James calls Christians to accept the challenge to be virtuous, to be complaint free and to be ready to suffer like the prophets. Also, if people are truly Christian they must be at times, counter-cultural, and exhibit a certain comportment and attitude that makes them identifiable as followers and witnesses of Christ. The decision is up to them and it begins at an interior level in the heart and then moves out from there.
John the Baptist, in Matthew's Gospel, was one such counter-cultural person. John had spent most of his life testifying to the coming of the Messiah. But John had thought that the Messiah would usher in a reign of judgment immediately rather than a ministry of teaching and healing.
JOHN THE PROPHET
Jesus takes the opportunity to teach the people. John, Jesus says, is the greatest of the prophets on earth but even John didn't fully understand the plan and role of the Messiah until he experienced him in action.
In fact, it is only those who have entered into the glory of heaven who can truly witness and understand the plan and purpose of God. It is to this reality that we are called.
So, gaudete! (rejoice!) for we can achieve this state, as the readings tell us today, through a conversion of heart that is verifiable in a life of virtue, so that we too can become like John the Baptist, a definitive sign of the life to come.
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