3rd Sunday of Advent


Isaiah 61:1-2A, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28


Today’s readings are underpinned by joy and by rejoicing. It is Gaudete Sunday, taking its name from its entrance antiphon. Rejoice [Gaudete] in the Lord always and again I say rejoice! (Phil 4:4). You cannot really miss the message even if a hymn replaces the antiphon. The readings and prayers fill the liturgy with joy, as do the pink of the Advent Candle and the vestments. It is one of my favourite Sundays of the year! I remind you of the joy:

I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul (Isaiah)

My spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour (Responsorial from Luke)

Rejoice always! (2 Thessalonians)

The first reading from Isaiah 61, well known to all, sets out God’s mission to Isaiah, later used by Jesus as his ‘mission statement’. The Gospel from John too focuses on mission, about one ‘sent by God’.

‘A man named John was sent from God’. I have always identified with this verse because my name is John! So, an abundance of Johns today! The community of John the Evangelist specify that John the Baptist came ‘testify to the light’ but he ‘was not the light but came to testify to the light.’ Therefore, I am not presumptuous to identify with this Gospel. You and I also must testify to the light.

Today’s readings remind us how to do it: with joy. As Francis famously stated in the opening words of his policy statement, The Joy of the Gospel: ‘the joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus’.

John McGrath is a parishioner of St Brigid’s Marrickville.