This Sunday the rose-pink candle of JOY will be lit on our Advent wreath by Liz, John, and Anna Deo. This third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. This day takes its name from the Latin word Gaudete (“Rejoice”), the first word of the Gregorian chant introit of the Roman Catholic Mass for this day.
This introit may be translated from the Latin as: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.”(Philippians 4:4–6;
This kind of rejoicing has as its object God and is a spiritual joy. It is a filling of our soul with joy that is in itself worship. We hear this rejoicing in the words and music of Handel’s Messiah masterpiece which is performed at this time of the year. I think that JOY and REJOICING go together, for joy comes from God. In recognizing that God is the source of all joy that we experience in our human lives, we are moved to praise God for that gift.
In his 2014 Gaudete Sunday homily, Pope Francis said that Gaudete Sunday is known as the “Sunday of joy”, and that instead of fretting about “all they still haven’t” done to prepare for Christmas, people should “think of all the good things life has given you.”
I think that’s good advice, for as we all know, the message of the secular world focuses on the commercial aspects of Christmas preparation. From Hallmark movies and television ads showing happy families in privileged settings, we are fed idealized models that may be very different from our own lives and make us feel wanting. I don’t think it’s hard to understand why many people get depressed around the holidays! Our challenge and our privilege is to focus on what is really important and available to all—hope, peace, joy, and love—and work to make them real for others.
I wish much joy for each of you as you praise God for the beauty and meaning of this Advent season as we wait once again for the One who is coming, has come, and will come again, Jesus the Christ. Rejoice in God always!
In Christ’s love,