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Children of the light

T

his Sunday is commonly known as Gaudete Sunday–Joyful Sunday. If a parish has them, the priest wears rose vestments, instead of the usual purple or violet of Advent.

In the early history of the Church, Advent was another Lent, a time of fasting and penance. This lasted right up until the first millennium.

As part of the practice, on the middle Sunday of the five weeks in Advent, the people were given an exemption from fasting. This came to be called Gaudete Sunday–Joyful Sunday.

In later times, the length of Advent was reduced from five week to four, and the fasting and penance was not practiced as strongly as it had been. However, Joyful Sunday has remained, as it has become a time closer to the celebration of the birth of Jesus at Christmas.

The readings all focus on light and darkness. The darkness as the life of sin and rejection of God, and the light that is Jesus, who came into our world as the way, the truth and the light that leads us to our God.

John the Baptist, the pre-eminent prophet, gave his life to proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, the saviour of the world. His whole life was focussed on this message, but he did not really understand who it was that was coming or who it was that would be the Messiah that had been proclaimed by the prophets throughout history.

John lived in a time when the world was ruled over by darkness. God’s chosen people had been led astray and their lives were attracted by the temptations of sinfulness.

John preached against this and in our Advent readings from the gospel, we hear repeatedly his proclamation that the people needed to repent from their sinful ways, have a conversion of heart and prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord.

He proclaimed that this is the time of the Lord, the one who the people had been taught from ancient times, was close at hand.

So, where do we sit in our time? Through our baptism, we become children of God and children of the light. We are no longer under the control of the darkness, although the darkness is still in the world. It means for us, that we must live our lives as children of the light and avoid the darkness.

On this Joyful Sunday, we are preparing for the coming into our world of the Lord of light, who overcame the darkness and gave us our salvation.

Walking through the shopping centres and experiencing the preparations of our workplace for the annual Christmas celebrations, we would be hard pressed to imagine where Jesus has a place.

This means that it is up to us to ensure that we provide ourselves with the opportunity to listen to the prophets of the ages and the prophets of our own time and prepare ourselves.

Yes, we are the prophets of our time and it is within the framework of our baptism that we take charge of the message that we offer to our families, our social groups and friends, in our workplaces.

As a matter of fact, we must tell all the people that we come in touch with that there is a choice between darkness and light.

Our personal preparation through prayer and reflection, the contemplation of the scriptures and our penance will help to give us the strength and courage to be that prophet for others.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice! The Lord is near.”

Deacon Les Baker