These are our two words which inform our understanding of this weeks readings. It is of course ‘Gaudete’ Sunday, the moment in Advent when the vestments turn rose and our thoughts are lifted towards the vision of the great and momentous events that are about to unfold. Events which demand of themselves an outpouring of joy that is exemplified by our desire to proclaim the message of Christ’s coming as part of the prophetic mission which have all been given.mission.
The passage from Isaiah is taken from the closing chapters of his book. It describes a moment of joy in that the exile is over and the people are returning home. There can be no doubt that this proclamation, this prophetic vision is one which overwhelms Isaiah. He cannot restrain himself as the words seem to tumble out as if a great dam has been breached and his words, like water cascade forth. The joy, the sheer exuberance are palpable and he acknowledges that it is the spirit of the Lord which is the springboard and fountain head of all that he proclaims. What an amazing experience it must have been for him, feeling the presence of God so close he was literally unable to contain his joy at what he was feeling.
The mood in the gospel is perhaps not quite as abundant as in Isaiah, but it does nevertheless contain within its message the call to us all, to take up the challenge of what it means to act and live the prophetic life. John the Baptists is being questioned - you may say is being interrogated in a not all together friendly way, and yet he is resolved to be steadfast in his convictions. He knows who he is and he knows that his role is to proclaim the one who is to come. This is what gives him his mission and he accepts it with total belief.
So we have our mission, our task. Each one of us, through our baptism is given the gifts which our own anointing with the Spirits endows us. Proclamation and Prophecy are not mere add-ons to our faith but are the very life blood of our living the Christian way. The path we have chosen to walk is one which follows Jesus’ way. It is a path of great expectant joy even though we know that it will be hard and contain may unexpected and unprepared for challenges. But these are overcome because we know the end to which our faith leads us. This is why we live with the joy of the gospel in our hearts. It is why we must sense that same feeling that Isaiah felt and why we must nurture the same convictions that St John the Baptist had. They are the means through which our witness becomes a joyful and prophetic proclamation.
Have a happy, joyous Gaudete!!