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December 17, 2023

Red candles surrounded by ornaments

Joy to the World

Advent represents a penitential season, a mini-Lent, with the goal of opening ourselves to Jesus—to the Jesus born in Bethlehem, Jesus risen and living, and Jesus coming at the end of time. In decades past, common fasting rules shaped our experience of the season. The third Sunday saw a relaxation, a mini-vacation, from the solemnity. The readings focus on joy more than disciplined readiness. Thus, it came to be called Gaudete Sunday from the Latin “Rejoice!” 

Christianity believes that Sunday’s first reading (Isaiah 61:1–2, 10–11) describes Jesus the Messiah and the salvation he brings. He comes “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted . . . a day of vindication by our God.” Jesus draws us into his mission, and Christ offers hope: “In my God is the joy of my soul. . . . So will the Lord God make justice spring up, and praise before all nations.” 

Writing to the Thessalonians (1 Thes 5:16–24), St. Paul urges, “Rejoice always. . . . Do not quench the Spirit” (5:16, 19). While the vagaries of life tempt us to lose hope in whatever century we live, Paul points us to the God into whose love our souls can expand. We need God, not to solve our problems, but instead to give us cause for courage and happiness in the very essence of our being.

Last Sunday, the reading from Mark’s Gospel (1:1–8) focused on John the Baptist, who reappears this third week in a selection from the Gospel of John the Apostle (1:6–8, 19–28). The reading tells us that the baptizing John “came . . . to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him” (1:7). This week, we stand with John, finding joy and hope in the coming, the presence, and the longed-for return of our Savior.



Fr. Art Liebscher, S.J. ’69

Fr. Art assists the Alumni Office with spiritual services deemed important to the University. His many good works include attending to those in special need, representing the University in liturgies, participating on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and helping build Santa Clara’s Jesuit outreach to younger alumni, special boards, and other constituencies.