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17/12/2017  3rd Sunday of Advent - B 

17/12/2017  3rd Sunday of Advent - B 

Reading 1, Isaiah 61,1-2.10-11 * Psalm, Luke 1,46-50.53-54 * Reading 2, First Thessalonians 5,16-24 * Gospel, John 1,6-8.19-28


Always be joyful!” With this recommendation of the Apostle Paul begins the introductory rite of this third Sunday of Advent, that in ancient times was called, as a matter of fact, “Gaudete”, that is to say “Be joyful”. The invitation to rejoice it is repeated in all the readings! We are in Advent, that is the time for waiting: this waiting is full of joy! We are waiting for our liberation, the salvation from our sin, we await Who is coming to fill our life, to make true the desires of peace and communion in the hearts of all men, we are waiting for the one who loves us and desires us with the joy with which the bridegroom desires the bride!

The passage from the Prophet Isaiah is the one which Jesus found in the book when he rose to read in the synagogue in Nazareth. With these words he introduced himself to those who thought already knew him, but they did not have any knowledge of the mission that he received from the Father! “I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation…”. The prophet’s joy becomes Jesus’ joy, who embodies the Father’s love for the poor, the oppressed, for the slaves, for the prisoners! In this way, Jesus becomes the joy of all these people, who represent us all! We, here on earth, are like slaves that must serve many masters visible and invisible, we are captives inside our small conscience because of a chain of small and big faults, we are broken-hearted because of sicknesses of the body and sins, ours and our brothers’, we are afflicted waiting for the final news of the coming of our defender. The prophet’s words give us hope, make our eyes sparkle with pure and clear joy! To these words the liturgy requires us to answer with those grown on Mary’s lips: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”! Mary knew God’s love for the poor and the sufferer, she sang it while she was carrying the Son, and when he came she experienced it and saw it become true for all those he was meeting during his pilgrimage towards Jerusalem!

Joy and happiness follows the presence of Jesus, and the Baptiste too, whom we can hear in the text from the Gospel, was eagerly waiting. The evangelist introduces him, first of all, with his name, the meaning of which is «God is merciful, is love»! He introduces him as a witness to the light, a person who can open hearts to the faith. John knows that he is not the one who is to come, and he says it openly to whom is asking him. He is not the Christ, but only the one who is going to prepare the hearts for His coming; he prepares them to receive from Him the Holy Spirit and to listen to His voice: “I am a voice of one that cries in the desert: Prepare a way for the Lord”!

John is announcing as present “among you” someone “unknown to you”. And about himself, he says that he is “not fit to undo the strap of his sandal”! This last expression, very easily understandable for the Jews, says something really incredible. It is referring to the fact that, if a man were to day without children, the closer next of kin would merry the widow, giving in this way descendants to the dead man. Not always this relative would accept the honor! Then, the next one in line to take his place had to publicly undo the strap of the sandal of the defaulting relative. John’s expression means then that he does not believe himself worthy of taking Jesus’ place, the bridegroom’s place, in His love for the bride. Jesus is introduced then as the bridegroom: the title that the prophets used to give to God Himself, faithful bridegroom of Israel, that is to say of the often unfaithful bride! To say that Jesus is the bridegroom is the same as to say that He is God Himself, who has come to visit His people with an incomparable love!

He is the one we are waiting for, and whom, during this time of Advent, we are practicing to wait for always. This waiting is full of joy, because we do know that we will not be disappointed! Saint Paul is indeed urging us to be joyful, but also to pray without ceasing, and to say thank you for everything: whoever gives thanks, as a matter of fact, is not concentrated on himself, but on whoever has benefitted him, on God that wants us and calls us! Waiting is to be watchful, to be careful not to become a tool of evil, but to let us be sanctified in everything we do.


Our Lord Jesus, I am joyfully waiting for your coming. You will come whenever you want, but I will always wait. I do not have anybody else to wait for, nobody that could take your place, that could be a match for you. You alone are savior and friend to men!