Book excerpt: Joyful Joyful Third Sunday in Advent

Although Advent is at its root a penitential season, when Christians remind themselves that they need to prepare for the second arrival of Jesus — the Third Sunday of Advent is also known as Gaudete Sunday, gaudete being a Latin command along the lines of Rejoice!

After all, the first arrival of Jesus must come before any second arrival.

Beyond the everyday joy of a healthy newborn baby boy, this particular birth is the beginning of The End Times or the New Covenant when God sets everything right that was yanked askew by the sins of men. He is such a Doting Father that he lavishes adoptive status on mortal men, fallible and sinful, raising us up far beyond our original state.

As Pope Benedict XVI says in the excerpt below (from Benedictus), God is waiting for us. But like the doting father in the story of the Prodigal Son, He did not put us out of mind, or ignore us. He is waiting and watching for us — and indeed ran out to meet us in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, Emmanuel, “God is with us.”

God has become man. He has become a child.

Thus he fulfills the great and mysterious promise to be Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Now he is no longer unreachable for anybody.

God is Emmanuel.

By becoming a child, he offers us the possibility of being on familiar terms with him.

I am reminded here of a rabbinical tale recorded by Elie Wiesel. He tells of Jehel, a little boy, who comes running into the room of his grandfather, the famous Rabbi Baruch. Big tears are rolling down his cheeks.

And he cries, “My friend has totally given up on me. He is very unfair and very mean to me.”

“Well, could you explain this a little more?” asks the master.

“Okay,” responds the little boy. “We were playing hide and seek. I was hiding so well that he could not find me. But then he simply gave up and went home. Isn’t that mean?”

The most exciting hiding place has lost its excitement because the other stops playing.

The master caresses the boy’s face. He himself now has tears in his eyes.

And he says, “Yes, this is not nice. But look, it is the same way with God. He is in hiding, and we do not seek him. Just imagine! God is hiding, and we people do not even look for him.”

In this little story a Christian is able to find the key to the ancient mystery of Christmas.

God is hiding.

He waits for his creation to set out toward him, he waits for a new and willing Yes to come about, for love to arise as a new reality out of his creation.

He waits for man.