Gaudate Sunday - Year C

Gaudate Sunday – year C

“Gaudate in Domino semper: iterum dico gaudate, Dominus enim prope est!”

50-60 years ago this prayer, in Latin, would welcome you to Sunday mass for the third week of Advent.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice, for the Lord is near!”

There is another Sunday in the year which takes its name from the Latin “introit” or entry prayer. Anyone know? (Laetare – 4th Sunday of lent – “mothering” Sunday)

Both Sundays mark a pause in a time of repentance and urge us to let up a bit and rejoice in the Lord.

The prayers today and the 1st and 2nd readings exhort us to “rejoice” and “be happy” as St Paul puts it.

Nothing wrong with that, God knows, it is hard sometimes to see in our troubled world what there is to be happy about!

Let’s get away from the cynicism……

Ah, but wait a moment, when we look at the Gospel today, there seems to be a bit of a contrast.

John the Baptist is enjoying a certain amount of notoriety.

Many people have come to listen to what he as to say. All sorts of people, from all walks of life – even soldiers who could have been Roman. Israel under Roman occupation was not allowed to have an army (apart from some temple guards who could hardly be called military!)

So many people were listening to him, but what did he have to say?

In the three verses preceding today’s reading, Luke tells us that John was somewhat direct!

7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”


Somewhat stunned by what seems to be quite harsh condemnation the people respond with: “What must we do then?”

If you read between the lines, John replies with what can be seen as his version of “love one another!”

He says that if anyone has “two tunics” (in other words more that they need) they must share with those who have less than they need.

Similarly, feed the hungry.

To the “tax collectors”, who were the financiers of their day, be honest don’t try and unjustly extort money from others.

To the soldiers, do your duty but don’t unnecessarily intimidate your adversaries.

Sun Tzi in his book “The Art of Ware” in the 5th century BC says:

“The art of War is to defeat your enemies without conflict” You may have seen the TV ad with the two orangutans?

John continues: “Be content with your pay” – they probably weren’t payed much!

All this is John’s version of “Love one another!”

Perhaps people begin to see through John’s harsh words. They begin to think he might be the Messiah, the Christ.

Now we see why this gospel is here:

“Someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I…….”

So what about us?

Of course, rejoice and be glad. Go home and have a glass of wine or something, it’s not lent!

But take heed of the question “What must we do?”

If you haven’t already, support our CAFOD project. If you haven’t already, put a Christmas card on the board and donate to CAFOD – at very least, the price of the card. Feed the hungry and share with those who have less that you.

And finally, and most certainly not least, remember to bring the Christ child into the bedlam of Christmas! Let Jesus into our hearts and homes.

Maranatha, come Lord Jesus.