The Third Sunday of Advent is often referred to as Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday. The title comes from the beginning of the Latin psalm for this Sunday, "Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete" ("Rejoice in the Lord; again I say, rejoice," Philippians 4:4, which comes from today’s second reading).
With only one more Sunday before Christmas, the liturgy takes on a more eager and urgent sense of anticipation. In our secular preparation for Christmas, holiday plans are well underway, gifts are being purchased and wrapped, decorations adorn the interiors and the exteriors of our homes, menus are being finalized, and the anticipation of the upcoming holiday is in the forefront of our thoughts.
Similarly, the Church is preparing for this great occasion to celebrate the birth of the Son of Man. In some parishes, the priests and deacons take a pause from wearing purple vestments which are normally worn during the Advent season to recognize the importance of this particular Sunday. The option of rose vestments and a rose candle for the third candle of the Advent wreath help heighten this emphasis. We light the rose candle to remind us of the joy that is to come to us on Christmas morning amidst the normal preparation and anticipation that is at the center of the Advent season. It is not surprising that the verbs "sing" and "rejoice" are heard over and over in the readings for this Sunday.
Right from the first reading, we hear this note of joy and eager hope from the prophet Zephaniah. Like his contemporary, Jeremiah, he had labored to end pagan worship in Jerusalem. Here he offers a lyric vision of Israel's future: "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing Joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exalt all your heart, O daughter
Many Christians know that the Book of Psalms was most often intended to be chanted or sung. But the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament are filled with many other canticles and songs. This Sunday, rather than with a psalm, the assembly responds with a canticle from the 12th chapter of Isaiah, expressing in song the same bold joy and thanksgiving of the readings.
This Sunday, Paul is again writing to the young persecuted community in Philippi, and his words are filled with this same spirit of rejoicing and eager anticipation. As mentioned before, a portion of this text gives the name to this Sunday.
John the Baptist's message to the Israelites seems stern, but Luke reminds us that he is "preaching the Gospel" (the "Good News"). The "Good News" of God and God's reign calls us to a commitment that is not only joyful, but also demands a new vision of how we live in that reign. Christmas will be upon us soon. Today we prepare for that
miracle by rejoicing in the Lord. It is through His birth that we will find eternal life.
Continued Advent Blessings,
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC