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Theology for the common man

3 Sunday of Advent, 2017 B

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The readings of the third Sunday of Advent expresses the joy caused by the close realization of the prophecies of the Old Testament. They spoke of the coming of the Savior, who will free the nations from social injustice and from its source in sin and will proclaim the jubilee, that is, a solemn time of God’s forgiveness. This is why we call this Sunday the “Sunday of Gladness” from the Latin word “gaudete”, that means, “rejoice”, emphasizing its exceptional character from the other Sundays with a glad color of pink. Next week in the liturgy of Christmas we will celebrate the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament, in fact the nativity of the Son of God in the person of Jesus Christ. The first reading shows the gladness of the bride of the Lord (Jerusalem), the chosen nation, from the fact of its election by God and realization of the divine plans: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord. I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for He has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in the mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels”. The closeness of the coming of the Lord announced in today’s Gospel, in acting of a predecessor of the Lord, John the Baptist, who has come “to testify to the light”, the light which will shine when the Savior appears. John assured that he is not the Messiah, that his role is limited to be a humble instrument in of the plans of God: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert”, which is to call the people to subordinate their life to God, with the phrase: “make straight the way of the Lord”. It was exactly this meaning of the baptism which John the Baptist gave “in Bethany cross the Jordan”. From the beginning the Church believes in a special presence of God made by the nativity of Jesus Christ, by His saving death and vivifying actuation in the Holy Spirit. In this Spirit, St. Paul asks us to rejoice calling to subordinate our will to the will of God, and to “refrain from every kind of evil”, that through the incessant prayer we “may entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The better way to prepare for this celebration should be the cleansing of our hearts in the sacrament of penance.