Ready to Rejoice?
“Go and tell John what you hear and seeâ€
Thank you for joining as we continue in this time of expectation awaiting the Lordâ€™s return.
Over the last two Sundays we considered the cognates of hope and peace. We learned that we are to live expectantly, as if the party is about to begin, like children on the night before Christmas.
We faithful have hope, confidence and surety in Christ Jesus Who delivers on all Godâ€™s promises. He gives us His grace, most especially here at Holy Mass, so we may live out His gospel way.
Since we know what is to come, and are guaranteed delivery 100%, we are at peace regardless of what surrounds us. Jesus has baptized us in the Spirit, with a fire that burns away fear and anxiety, a fire that frees and releases us to everlasting peace.
Today we are called to rejoice; rejoice, the third Advent theme. We start in carefully distinguishing rejoicing and joy.
For us, joy is our state of existence, wherein we remain unaffected regardless of what is happening around us or even to us. We have joy because our eyes are fixed on Jesus, the deliverer of all Godâ€™s promises. Joy is not happiness or celebration. Instead, joy is the starting point for a life in which we rejoice.
Rejoicing â€“ that is the expression, the emoting and exuberance flowing from our life of hope, peace, and joy. We rejoice in exultation. We have the best news ever and are shouting, cheering, dancing around, putting our joy out there for all to see. Rejoicing! Our celebration in Jesus gathered as His body and family. Rejoice today!
It may seem odd that joy and rejoicing are expressed in todayâ€™s gospel from prison â€“ and a lousy prison where John was held. Consider several things about the tediousness of his existence. He is under that same roof as Herod and Herodias carrying on their immoral relationship. Herod enjoyed questioning and listening to John â€“ so likely had him dragged up day after day as a sort of interesting entertainment â€“ without any effectual change in Herod. Then, well back to the pit he lived in as a prisoner for a year and a half.
We can surmise that among others, John spoke of Jesus, thus Herod after Jesusâ€™ arrest: â€¦for a long time he had been wanting to see Him. â€¦he hoped to see Him perform a sign. Herod still unchanged and unprepared.
Johnâ€™s heart burned to bring people to repentance. Here he is in seeming frustration, all the mendacity John faced, yet even in prison he looked to His joy, the expected One. He had joy in the promise. He then sent his disciples and got the facts: Jesus is the Messiah. With that news, even in prison, John rejoiced.
In Advent we are called back to a focus on our joy, to fix our hearts on Him and find in Him the exultant rejoicing. Celebrate with exultancy for our joy.