Today, the Third Sunday of Advent, is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for "Rejoice." The color of the candle and the vestments is pink instead of the usual violet. The main theme of the readings (especially the first and second reading) is, of course, "Rejoice."
Why should we rejoice? Is it really possible to rejoice in the midst of all these problems and shenanigans that continue to beset us? People are in no mood to rejoice. The economy is bleak, more and more people are financially hard up, the corrupt and abusive Arroyo regime and her allies in congress (or the house of RepresentaTHIEVES) want to change the constitution so that they can perpetuate themselves in power, the peace process has broken down and the armed conflict is escalating - the MILF and NPA have increased their tactical offensives and the military continue their operation and bombing, and the exta-judicial killings continue.
What is surprising is that in spite of this darkness in the land, people are still capable of rejoicing and celebrating. Last night I attended the party of the leaders of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) in our parish, this lunch I attended the party of the Knights of Columbus, and this evening we had the party with the parish and house staff and their family together with the members of the Redemptorist community. Christmas is in the air and it is still 11 days away. I can see the smile in the faces of the people. They know how to enjoy themselves. Yes, those who suffer most know how to rejoice.
In today's Gospel. John the Baptist reminds us the source of this rejoicing - Jesus, the light of the world who conquers the darkness in our midst. No matter how dark the world seems to be, no matter how evil seem to continue to rule, there is always hope. We only need to recognize and accept the Lords presence in our midst and this is the source of joy because he is our savior. This is the good news that Isaiah proclaims in the first reading - the good news to those who suffer, to the poor and oppressed. Like John we need to proclaim and witness to the light. And we should never give up in our struggle against the forces of darkness.