DAILY MASS READINGS (December 15, 2019)

3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT/GAUDETE SUNDAY (CYCLE A, Rose/Violet)

Reading 1 (ISAIAH 35:1-6A, 10)

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

– The word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm (PSALM 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10)

R. (cf. Is 35:4)  Lord, come and save us.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD God keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Lord, come and save us.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Lord, come and save us.
or:
R. Alleluia.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
R. Lord, come and save us.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 (JAMES 5:7-10)

A reading from the Letter of St. James

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

– The word of the Lord.

Alleluia (ISAIAH 61:1 (CITED IN LUKE 4:18)

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel (MATTHEW 11:2-11)

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out?  To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

– The Gospel of the Lord.

Reflection: We are on the climax of our Advent pilgrimage: the Third Sunday of Advent also known as “Gaudete Sunday — Sunday of rejoicing”. If we observe the Advent Wreath, the Rose-colored/Pink-colored candle is lighted, symbolizing “joy”. And the Priest has the option to wear Rose-colored/Pink-colored Vestments. The Entrance Antiphon from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians invites us to rejoice in the Lord always because he is near us, in the very presence of our lives. In the midst of our solemn and penitential preparations, the Church encourages us to “shake up the mood” by means of rejoicing not only that the Solemn Feast of Christmas is near, but also that the Lord is with us wherever we are and whatever we’re going through. Isaiah in the First Reading speaks of the lowly and parched landforms, to which God will make something good come out of them. A wonderful event will happen there: the blind will see, the lame will walk, the deaf will hear, the mute will speak, and the lame will walk. This is the promise of God 500 years before Christ’s coming that salvation will be granted not only to the upright of Israel, but also the poor and afflicted ones, even the Gentiles that they may recognize the “salvation of all flesh”. John the Baptist in the Gospel was imprisoned by King Herod Antipas because he denounced the king and his second wife Herodias of the act of adultery. Then he heard of the good works his cousin the Lord Jesus had performed, so he sent messengers to ask if “he is the One, or they shall look for another”. Jesus replied to them by the divine promise that Isaiah prophesied in the First Reading. Then after the messengers left, he exulted his cousin Saint John the Baptist, that there is no prophet greater than the Precursor. John came from a upright family in Judea, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. But when he grew in strong spirit and advanced in wisdom, he left his household and remained in the desert near the Jordan River. There he proclaimed repentance and conversion in order the people to be ready for the Lord’s coming, thus baptizing them in the river. We can see the manifestation of God’s salvation which was prepared by Saint John the Baptist and now fulfilled to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the joy that history narrates and describes to us, and its impact continues to affect our lives, that despite of the problems and uncertainties in life, we have this God who is capable to agonize with our own weaknesses, yet it is he who guides us to undergo them each day with perseverance and faith.
I always wonder what happened to those people in those humble communities I have visited during the past 4 Retreats before graduating High School. I hope that wherever they are, they are still living to hope for a better future, yet they are happy in the midst of their sufferings. It is such a blessing to visit them, to give them bundles of joy, and to immerse with them by listening to their stories. They’ve inspired me to bring joy and gladness to my own fellow family, friends (including teachers), relatives, and many more. Perhaps when I’m already a Priest 10 to 30 years from now, I can visit these areas again to see the same joy and to bring greater joy. Likewise in our lives, we experience pains and problems that we want to escape from, but the lesson here is not escaping or finding what we Filipinos called “palusot”. We have to find that joy at those momentary times of our lives. Msgr. Bong Lo once said: “Joy is not the absence of problems, but joy is the presence of God.” So as we journey down this Advent road, may our lives become “gaudete – rejoicing,” being joyful not because our burdens have overwhelmed us, but rather being joyful that we have a God who is with us in whatever we are experiencing. And may we also be bearers of that joy to others, especially by immersing and reaching out to those who are physically and spiritually poor.

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