The 3rd Sunday of advent is traditionally known in the Catholic Church as ‘Gaudete’. This word originates from the Latin introit of the 3rd Sunday of Advent: “Gaudete in Domino semper” which translates as “rejoice in the Lord all the time” (Philippians 4:4). What makes this biblical passage interesting is that St. Paul wrote from his prison cell to encourage and give hope to the Christians in Philippi who were living in fear and losing hope as a result of persecutions.

Our situation today, particularly in Nigeria, and more particularly in Igboland is not different. Christmas is already there yet the atmosphere does not reflect it. The usual Christmas jingles and carols are no longer being heard and where they do, they sound awkward. The messiah many Nigerians are waiting for today is the one who will provide them the next meal. Things are really bad. People are living in fear of the known and unknown.

Strangely, everyone is expecting help and encouragement from someone. Everyone is looking for the messiah everywhere except in him or herself. The truth remains that the only way to multiply our meagre meals in the wilderness of our economic wretchedness is not the readiness to receive from others but to give. This is the foundation of all human miracles. That was the life Jesus led. That is the life he has called us Christians to emulate.

The major difference between heaven and hell is that in hell everyone thinks about her/himself whereas in heaven everyone is concerned with making the other person(s) happy. If everybody would be worried and concerned about the other, if everyone would work towards making the other happy, like St Paul did, despite our own worries and difficulties, I tell you, happiness would be our portion and joy would be multiplied. Gaudete!

Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu

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