3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (GAUDETE SUNDAY) YEAR B ON DECEMBER 13, 2020 (R. 1: Isaiah 61:1-2A, 10-11; Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54.; R. 2: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28)
FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
STOP CHASING IT! JUST RECOGNIZE IT!
Two friends went fishing one Saturday morning. After catching a few fish, one of them went to lie down on the beautiful beach to enjoy the sun. After a while, a prominent businessman, who was walking his dog on the beach saw him and asked him why he was lazing on the beach instead of catching more fish. The fisherman smiled and responded to the businessman, “And what will be my gain if I catch more fish?” The businessman answered, “Well, you can sell the fish and buy bigger nets and catch more fish!” The fisherman asked, “And what will my gain after that?” The businessman replied, “You will sell the fish and buy a fishing boat and use it to catch more fish.” The fisherman smiled and asked again, “And what will be my gain after that?” The businessman replied, “Then, you can buy a bigger boat, and employ some people to work for you!” The fisherman smiled and asked, “And what will be my gain after that?” The businessman, who had become very irritated by the fisherman’s persistent question said, “Have you no sense to understand that having made a lot of money, you can employ more people to work for you, and you will never have to work again for the rest of your life; then, you can enjoy the rest of your life sitting on this beautiful beach and enjoying the sun with no worries?” At this point, the fisherman gave his best smile, shook his head, and said, “And what do you think I’m doing right now? If relaxing on the beach is my goal, why do I have to go through all the troubles of catching more fish since I am already relaxing on the beach?”
In today’s gospel passage, the world is growing in high expectation of the arrival of the Messiah, and John the Baptist is mistaken for the Messiah. He seems to fit the description they have of the Messiah. A group of Priests and Levites are even talking him into accepting that identity, but John stands his ground as one who knows his identity. He identifies himself as the voice and not the Word; he is the monstrance and not the Blessed Sacrament. It would have been easy for John to have usurped the identity of Jesus, but he would have gotten into trouble when the time came to fulfil the identity.
Today is the third Sunday of Advent, which is also known as Gaudete Sunday. The name comes from the Latin word for the first word of the entrance antiphon, Gaudete, which means, Rejoice. The entrance antiphon is from Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 4:4-5, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” On this Sunday, the Church reminds us that even though Christmas is still over a week away, we can begin to feel the joy of Christmas now. Happiness is not something far away, it is not something we need to chase; we just need to recognize it. The fisherman in our opening story gets it very clear that if relaxation is his goal, he can find it now without going through a lot of stress. In the Gospel passage, John the Baptist tells the Pharisees that they do not need to look too far away for the Messiah; all that they need is to look among them and recognize the Messiah. Paul wrote to the Philippians in the entrance antiphon to rejoice; guess where he was writing from: he was writing from prison. Rejoicing is not what happens to us, it is a decision we make.
In this age of social media, there is the race to present false identities of ourselves, which eventually gets us more depressed because we know the truth within us. Our goal should not be to take a foreign identity but to know ourselves and be ourselves; not to become like someone else, but to become a better version of ourselves, and it is in Jesus that we know our true identity. John the Baptist found his fulfilment and joy in knowing his identity and being the best of himself and no one else. Just like it was done to John in the gospel passage, the world can put us under pressure to be who we are not. But the truth of the matter is that everyone else has been taken, the only one left is you, so the only person you can be is yourself. Live the life you were born to live and not the life people want you to live. The happiness you are looking for is in you, do not chase it; just recognize it, for if you do not recognize it in you, you may never be able to recognize it outside.
May the Holy Spirit enlighten us and open our eyes to recognize that happiness, which God has put inside every one of us, until we come to our heavenly inheritance, through Christ our Lord. Amen.