The special quality of the joy that we celebrate on this Gaudete Sunday stems precisely from what is new about the Good News. Though God’s promised deliverance was often foretold in the Old Testament, the way it finally came to pass turned out to be a great surprise, a wild going beyond all expectation. The Promised One would be the very Son of God made a man in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
The newness offered to the men and women of old is offered to us. We have already experienced newness of life in Baptism, as in a seed, then in a personal way when, at some crucial moment in our adult lives, we resolutely committed ourselves to Christ. All of this is a promise of the full working out of the Gospel newness at each moment of our lives, always leading us onward.
When the Messiah finally came there was great surprise. "They had expected might and there came weakness – speech, and there came silence – royalty, and there came poverty – war, and there came peace."* The lessons learned from God’s providential “surprises” are meant also for us. The great grace of Advent is watchfulness, knowing how to wait, ever on the lookout for God’s hints in the dark.
Consider then offering to the Christ Child this Christmas, a new take on those we live with, being aware of the positive things about them which we so often filter out. Let us learn to lay aside the tired old images of them we carry around in the pigeon holes of these calabash heads of ours.
*Prayer in Faith, Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ. And excerpts from Father Gabriel's homily at this morning's Eucharist.