Rev. Fr. John Damian Adizie
The third Sunday of Advent is popularly known as Gaudete Sunday.
Gaudete is a Latin word which means ‘Rejoice.’ All the readings of this very Sunday highlight the importance of rejoicing in the Lord.
One of the reasons why we must rejoice is because the coming of Christ is close at hand.
As the Prophets invites us to rejoice, some of the reasons why we must rejoice are stated in today’s readings.
The Prophet Zephaniah 3:14-18 declares, “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Child of God, do you know that this message is for you? Do you know that you are a son and a daughter of Zion? Do you even know that you are a citizen of the New Jerusalem? If you are aware of your true identity, then as the prophet declares, start singing and shouting aloud. Let the world hear your joyful shout. Rejoice, because there is good news for you.
Why are we shouting? Why must we rejoice?
According to the prophet Zephaniah, We are rejoicing because “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, He has cast out your enemies.” This is amazing! All the charges the enemies are bringing against you are hereby cancelled in Jesus name! The charges against your family are cancelled. The charges against your marital life are cancelled. Even the charges against your vocation are cancelled. Nobody can condemn you again! The Lord has cast out all your enemies. The enemies you see today, you shall see no more!
We must rejoice because our Redeemer is in our Midst. According to the Prophet Zephaniah, “The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.”
He is the Emmanuel of the gospel of Matthew 1:23, the God with us! During his public ministry Jesus told his followers that he will not leave them orphaned: “… I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). Before his ascension into heaven He also assured his followers that He will not abandon them: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Indeed, we must rejoice because the Lord is in our midst. He is with us always. He will never abandon or forsake us.
One with God is majority. If the Lord is on your side, you have nothing to fear. Even the Prophet Zephaniah declares, “…you shall fear evil no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem (and to your nation): “Do not fear, O Zion; let not your heart grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory.” And as long as the Lord God is in your midst you have nothing to worry about. No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper. The Lord will surely protect you. He will not allow any evil to befall you.
The prophet Isaiah 12:2-6 declares, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Since God is your Salvation, He will surely save you. He will save you from all dangers. He will save you from the hands of your enemies. He will save you from the kingdom of darkness. He will save you from untimely death.
He will also save you from the pit of hell of fire. As you put your trust in him, He will surely deliver you from the spirit of fear and all forms of anxiety.
Since God is our Salvation, the prophet Isaiah declares, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Child of God, as long as the Lord God is your Salvation, you will never be thirsty again. As He promised in Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
Your poverty cannot stop you. Even if you are poor there is hope for you. The Lord is inviting you to the fountain of living water. He is inviting you to His joyful feast. “For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace.” As you honour this invitation, “the mountains and hills before you shall break forth into singing, and the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Everything around you shall rejoice!
The expectation is so high. As you can see, there are so many things we shall gain from the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is coming to restore our joy, our hope, our peace and our future.
He is coming to restore all that the enemies have taken away from us. Above all, He is coming to restore our Salvation. To whom much is given much is expected. The gospel of Luke 3:10-18 presents what is expected of us at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When John the Baptist told his fellow Jews for the first time that the Messiah is coming they asked him, “What then shall we do?” John answered them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.”
This is the best way to prepare for Christmas! Christmas is a celebration of love and sharing. The gospel of John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” At Christmas we are not just celebrating the birthday of Christ, we are also celebrating the generosity of our Loving Father. Our God is the most generous Being the world has ever known.
Sharing, according to John the Baptist, is the essence of Christmas. Without sharing the Christmas celebration is incomplete. We, the children of God, must be loving as our heavenly Father is loving. We must be generous as our heavenly Father is generous.
We must learn how to share what we have, especially with the poor and needy. The more we share our gifts the more they multiply. Moreover, givers never lack.
Apart from sharing, John the Baptist also told his fellow Jews, especially the tax collectors, “Collect no more than is appointed you.” To the soldiers, he said, “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” Bribery and corruption are directly against the spirit of Christmas.
Unfortunately, here in Nigeria, Christmas have gradually become a season when people exploit their fellow human beings. In the name of season most people hike the prize of their goods so as to make more money. Most security agencies use force to extort money from people especially road users during this holy season. If you are one of them, repent!
In a nutshell, Christmas season is a period of joyful celebration. During this Christmas season the Prophet Isaiah 12:2-6 invites us to shout, and sing for joy, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
In his letter to the Philippians St. Paul declares, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.” Yes, that is the more reason why we must rejoice – the Lord is at hand! With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ at this Christmas season your period of sorrow is over. As you rejoice in the Lord, it shall be well with you in Jesus name – Amen!
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Author: Our Correspondents