Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, often referred to as Gaudete Sunday because of the Introit said at the beginning of Mass today, is one of my favorite days of the liturgical year. Today's liturgy gives us a peak into the joy and gladness of Christmas and the second coming of Christ, a taste of heavenly joy.
Here we have been journeying through Advent; a time of preparation, waiting, and a somewhat dark time in which we wait for our light. Today's readings announce that light in a dramatic way: setting prisoners free, anointing the afflicted, binding up the brokenhearted, comforting those who mourn—what true joy those words bring to our hearts!
The dramatic prophesy is even more beautiful when seen in the light of Mary's humble obedience. She knew of the prophesies of the coming Messiah, but could she as a young girl ever imagined she would be part of it by bearing a child? Did she know the ramifications of her "Yes"? What she did know is that the Lord regarded her in her humility, He would do many great things through her, her entire soul magnified God. Mary rejoiced at this marvel, this miracle.
And in her rejoicing I want to rejoice with her! I rejoice in her yes over two thousand years ago. I rejoice in the fact that God's saving work went through the life of a woman who humbly, actively participated with the Lord God to bring the world its Messiah. I want to rejoice in the smallness of one person changing human history with one yes. I want to rejoice in the miracle of the Annunciation and in Mary's Magnificat.
The Church wants to point us towards this same joy that will happen at Christ's second coming. I find carrying this joy towards that important time a lot more difficult. I carry fear and trembling for Christ's second coming, our complete unknowing of the time when He will come. Will we meet him with rejoicing and gladness like Mary's?
It's easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of the second coming of Christ, at our unpreparedness even as we prepare for this Christmas, but Mary's joy and focus on what God was doing in the present in something I want to keep in mind. I want to remember that God is at work right now, His plan is present in our lives at this very moment, our "yes" to him everyday is happening now. We may not see even a glimmer of what God is doing with our lives, but like Mary we can rejoice in being part of His plan, we can carry the joy in that knowledge and bear witness to the light that will come again.
Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.