December 13, 2020 – Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121320.cfm)
Once in a big cathedral, as the priest is about to greet the people in the mass with the usual “the Lord be with you” (Ang Ginoo Maanaa kaninyo) to which the people were to respond: “And also with you,” (Maanaa usab kanimo) the people were not able to hear this because the wires in the microphone were defective. The priest then banged the microphone which fortunately made contact. But to his regret, while the mic regain contact, he accidentally shouted and broadcasted loudly: “there is something wrong with the microphone”. (Naay daut ang microphone) And worse, the people involuntarily replied: “And also with you.” (Maanaa usab Kanimo).
Usually in the mass, we hear the normal greeting of the priest: The Lord be with you” (Ang Ginoo maanaa Kanimo). And then we usually reply, “and also with you” (Maanaa usab kanimo). But what does it mean? What does the Lord be with you mean?
According to the scripture, the words, “the Lord be with you” is the first good news ever proclaimed to us. Since the annunciation of Maria, the birth of Jesus until His ministry, death and resurrection, these words and message have always been proclaimed and preached to us, and has been a recurring theme of the Good News of Jesus Christ. And even until now, the Spirit of God and the Church, has preached these to us again and anew – that the Lord is WITH you and all of us now.
If the Lord is with us, how should we feel then? Our readings today call us to be Joyful and Thankful to God for He has blessed us with His presence and salvation in our lives. Isaiah rejoices over God’s grace bestowed not only on himself but on Us all, proclaiming: “My soul rejoices in my God”. St Paul exhorts that we should always rejoice and give thanks for such great blessing upon us. John in our gospel today knows himself. He is not the Messiah himself. John is not the message or the Good New, but He is just the microphone & loudspeaker of the message. He is only the voice and just the precursor to prepare the way of the Lord. But he also aspires to be a worthy friend of the bridegroom. He is not the Groom but the joyful Best man or person for the Groom. This is also what John wishes for us – that We become the Best (worthy, righteous, and joyful) Person before God and others for the Christ, the Messiah, and become a Microphone/Loudspeaker of the message.
We are now in the third Sunday of Advent. The whole Church calls this particular Sunday as “Gaudete Sunday”, the Sunday of Joy and Praise. We are encouraged to be always grateful of the Good News that the Lord is with and upon us.
But are we really now joyful because of the Good News that the Lord is with us? Or are we, like what happened with the priest who said that mass, become accustomed and got used with the message that the Lord-is-with-us that we are not anymore happy and excited about it? And because we get used to it and have heard it before, we just automatically or mechanically respond without really meaning it: And also with you?” What then, is the difference if when we hear the Message, and we just respond, “OK, fine whatever.”? Or without interest responding “Amen”, whenever presented with “Body of Christ” during communion? Or just saying “So what?” when a special guest arrives in your home for a visit?
If we have heard the good news that the Lord is with us, what should we do then? If we really recognize that the Lord is with us, it is but right and fitting that we should rejoice and be happy because a great grace has come upon us. And in our joy and gladness, we also need to preach and share this good news to all – that is we should actively witness, preach and proclaim this with all our words and actions. Like St. John the Baptist in our gospel, we who have heard and glad of the good news of salvation must also become the best man – like good microphone or sound system that proclaims, “the Lord is with us”. And in this season of advent, we must renew, prepare, and strengthen our faith, so that we may become worthy of His message.
If the microphone is defective, we must also check if the speaker and receiver are also defective, for we might send a wrong message and get a wrong response. Advent then is Time for Sound Check & Mic Test – to ensure we are at our BEST condition to host our beloved Guest Jesus Christ.
Christmastime proclaims to us the simple message: the Lord is with us. How about us? Are we with Him?
May we Be with the Lord, as He has always been with Us. Amen.