Is 61:1-2a, 10-11
1 Thes 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28
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The command to “rejoice always” may seem like a demanding requirement, given the fact that things do not always go our way, because of circumstances beyond our control. Yet this rejoicing is always possible, because it is based on the salvation which Christ has come to bring. “I rejoice heartily in the Lord,” Isaiah writes, “for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.”
This “justice,” manifested when God rescues his people (for example, from slavery in Egypt) has come to us in the Divine Child whose birth we are preparing to celebrate. He wrapped us in a mantle of justice when, by his death and resurrection, he rescued us from the power of death. “To proclaim liberty to captives” is his mission, as the First Reading indicates in a passage that would later be quoted by Christ himself in reference to his own ministry. The Christmas song “O Holy Night” reflects this theme when it says, “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name all oppression shall cease.”
We who are rescued must rescue the poor and weak among us, including the poorest and weakest, the unborn children. To celebrate the God who comes to free the oppressed, and has freed us, means to commit ourselves to ending oppression in our culture.