This weekend we celebrate Gaudete Sunday which translates as rejoicing Sunday and we light the pink candle on the Advent Wreath also in some places the vestments may be a rose colour. In the readings for this Sunday both John the Baptist and Paul share one belief: that the Lord is very near. God’s nearness didn’t act as a threat to them, but gave them a infectious source of joy that no one could takeaway from them. Their joy in the closeness of God gave an edge to their preaching and teaching exhorting others as well as ourselves to make ready the way for the lord; it also gave them a vision to see the far side of disaster; it moved them to draw others into that sense of joy. None of them was enclosed in his own joy each moved out going round in the hope his inner joy would be caught by the people of their time and place and many people were caught by the joy they had to pass on to them.
The picture of John the Baptist as a man of joy is not one you hear about very often. John is usually portrayed as a lonesome figure, with a weird wardrobe and weirder diet, who rants and raves at anyone with ears to hear. But John was a character who intrigued people and as a result they would seek him out and follow him. People don’t journey into the wilderness just to get insulted; people don’t become disciples for the wardrobe and diet. Here was a man who cared nothing at all for comfort, money or fame, who could not be bought, and who would speak the truth without fear. In John people could see something of God. John spoke to people in words the people could grasp when he told them exactly what they should be doing. John made such a deep impression on people that word goes around that he might be the Christ. Again, that expectant feeling is a measure of John’s effect on people around him.
John did not claim to know who the Messiah was going to be instead he tells the people that he is not that person. That role is for someone else, someone greater and more powerful than he was. And as we know that person was Jesus the Son of the Father. We are called to be joyful witnesses to Jesus but as we know with all that is going on around us these days that is not easy. There are bits and pieces in the Way’s of the World that continue to block the presence of the Lord within us as well as so many other people. Once again It’s time to clean our houses and prepare to welcome the Lord into our lives our hearts and our homes. As we light the pink candle this weekend to celebrate our rejoicing are we prepared to open our hearts and minds to the fact that the Lord is near and pass on the joy of St. Paul and John the Baptist on to the people around us.