by Khonzumenzi Dlamini
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Today we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent known as Gaudete Sunday (rejoice). The second reading 1 Thessalonians 5:16-25 sets the theme of today’s Eucharistic celebration “Rejoice always.” We should embrace the joyful hope of the coming of the Messiah. The Old Testament history tells us that the coming of the Messiah was a sweet national obsession. Everyone was waiting for the Messianic age, it was coming with great news of emancipation, happiness and restoration.
Our Gospel periscope today presents John the Baptist in the River Jordan where he was baptizing, calling People to “turn away from their sins and make straight the way of the Lord.” A delegation of Priests and Levites was sent to find out who John the Baptist was, they wanted his identity. He confessed that he was not the Messiah since some Jewish authorities and the people might have thought he was the Messiah, or else Elijah whom they believed would reappear when it was time for the Messiah to come.
John clearly told them his mission “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.” John was the ‘advance man’ he came to instruct people on the proper way through which they must receive the Messiah. It was to turn away from sin and be baptised. John’s confession that he was not the Messiah and his mentioning that “I baptise with water, among you stands one whom you do not know.” John already points us to Jesus, He is among us, and He has already come as the Savior of the world. May we always recognise Christ’s presence among us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 436 states that:
The word “Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Messiah, which means “anointed”. It became the name proper to Jesus only because he accomplished perfectly the divine mission that “Christ” signifies. In effect, in Israel those consecrated to God for a mission that he gave were anointed in his name. This was the case for kings, for priests and, in rare instances, for prophets. This had to be the case all the more so for the Messiah whom God would send to inaugurate his kingdom definitively. It was necessary that the Messiah be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord at once as king and priest, and also as prophet. Jesus fulfilled the messianic hope of Israel in his threefold office of priest, prophet and king.
We are being told Christ comes to establish the kingdom of God among us, Christ is the fulfilment of the Old Testament and the culmination of the word the light that is coming into the world. As the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah already gives us clear picture of the Messianic age. Isaiah 61:1 “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners…”