Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel
December 16, 2023 // Perspective

In Advent, May We See Christ’s Coming as a Source of Peace

Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel

Third Sunday of Advent

This weekend, the Church celebrates Gaudete Sunday, the name coming from the opening word of the entrance antiphon. In Latin, gaudete means “to rejoice.” Rejoicing is not indicated because Advent, and its stress on prayer and penance, is half completed, but rather because Christmas is nearer.

Another reason for rejoicing is that, hopefully, we all feel closer to God because of observing Advent with prayer, reflection, and penance. If we have used Advent as intended by the Church, we are nearer to a fuller communion with the Lord, the “light of the world.”

Priests may wear rose-colored vestments on this weekend, symbolizing the darkness of Advent already being lightened by the forthcoming light of the Lord’s arrival in our souls.

The third part of Isaiah furnishes the first reading. When this passage was written, God’s people were weary and frustrated. They, or their forebears, had undergone the humiliation, uncertainty, and misery of exile in Babylon. When finally allowed to leave Babylon and return to their homeland, they were understandably overjoyed.

Instead, however, they found a sterile and parched land awaiting them. Life was brutally hard. Had God tricked them, providing for their release from Babylon only to subject them to further, worse trials at home? Did God even exist?

Typically for Third Isaiah, this reading glows with optimism. Whatever may be the reality of the moment, for those loyal to God, a wondrous future awaits.

St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians provides the second reading. Belief in the Lord’s Second Coming, and impatience to see it occur, were widespread in the first generations of Christianity. This reading well catches this mood.

Longing for the Second Coming among the early Christians is not hard to explain. They had much to endure. Severe persecution had developed. The culture all around the Christians was hostile. Temptations to renounce the Gospel abounded.

Paul reassured the Christians of Thessalonica, urging them to be true to the Gospel. God, and God’s goodness, will one day prevail.

St. John’s Gospel is the source of the last reading. The reading is a story about John the Baptist, whose own identity puzzled his contemporaries. Some even assumed that John was the Messiah. If not the Messiah, others wondered if he were Elijah, or another prophet who had returned to earth.

Replying to these questions, John was very firm. Another would follow him, he insisted. John was to prepare the way for this future representative of God, who would be wonderful for all humanity. John is not worthy even to untie the straps of His sandals.


In calling us to rejoice this Gaudete weekend, the Church either presumes that we have spent the weeks of Advent pondering within ourselves the meaning of salvation for us personally and individually, or it urges us to use the remaining time in this season to seek God with all our hearts.

Christ was born, in God’s merciful plan, to meet human needs, for guidance, for hope, and for life.

As Christmas 2023 draws near, the land blessed by the footsteps of Christ is in anguish. The war continues between Hamas, the Palestinian extremists, and Israel – consuming, or ending lives, destroying hope, building despair.

Fighting endures in Ukraine. Less bloody, but bitter divisions, separate Americans, filling them with fear and hatred.

How much evidence must humans see to realize the damage that their dismissal of God creates for themselves and others? What proof is needed to convince us that the way of Christ is the only way to peace and goodness?

See Christ’s coming as the answer, determined to bring Jesus into our hearts and lives, and thereby to begin, at least in ourselves, the process of living sanely and peacefully.

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