3rd Sunday of Advent - Sunday, December 12, 2021

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Father Joseph d...

December 8, 2021

Gaudete Sunday Greetings!  The Entrance Antiphon in the Liturgy is Philippians 4:4-5 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near.”  “Rejoice” is the English translation of the first Latin word of the Antiphon: Gaudete.  This first word of the Antiphon then came to name the entire Sunday.

It is reasonable to assume that the season of Advent originated as a fast of forty days in preparation for Christmas, starting on November 12, the day after the feast of St. Martin.  So by the 5th century Advent was often called "St. Martin's Lent".  In the 9th century, Advent’s length was reduced to four weeks.  Then by the 12th century the fast had been replaced by abstinence.  As time went on Advent became less of a “mini-Lent” but still preserved most of the feel of a penitential season.  We use purple vestments and we do not sing the Gloria at Mass while we keep singing the Alleluia.  Also, the middle (or 3rd) Sunday of Advent (Gaudete) corresponds with the middle (or 4th) Sunday of Lent (Laetare) where the liturgical colour becomes pink or rose.

We switch from the penitential (sorrowful) colour of purple to the celebratory (joyful) colour of rose at the half-way point as an encouragement to hang in there, i.e., this season of preparation will not last forever!  Lent will end and we will soon get to the Solemnity of Easter or in this case Advent will end and we will soon get to the Solemnity of Christmas. 

So perhaps more so that ever I need and perhaps we all need a major injection of hope and joy as we live through the seemingly never ending pandemic.  Our first reading, Zephaniah 3:14-18a invites us to: Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart!  It affirms that the king of Israel, the Lord, is in our midst; we shall fear disaster no more. {Wow, I need to hear that right now!}  God will rejoice over us with gladness, he will renew us in his love; he will exult over us with loud singing.  Wow, imagine God rejoicing over us!  Imagine God renewing God’s love for us!  Imagine God exulting over with us with joy!

The response to the Responsorial Canticle, Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6 is “Shout aloud and sing for joy; great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”  The canticle speaks to us about how God is our salvation.  How we can trust in God and not be afraid.  {Wow, I need to hear that right now!}  The Lord is our strength, might and salvation.  We are offered this beautiful image: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  Then we are invited to sing praises to the Lord, to let this be known in all the earth and to shout aloud and sing for joy!  Notice how we are not invited to be prophets of doom and gloom sharing bad news but we are called to be authentic follower of Jesus sharing Good News.  So perhaps this Advent, we can fast from sharing bad news and commit ourselves to proclaiming Good News!

Our second reading, Philippians 4:4-7 begins: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”  We are encouraged to: “Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”  Then how I so desperately need to hear this message: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”  The reading concludes: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  I am reminded as a Resurrectionist to ask for and to believe and trust and hope in the gift of the Risen Lord: the gift of his Peace!

Our Gospel, Luke 3:10-18 reinforces this message of the call to share the good news by ending with the following passage: “So, with many other exhortations, John (the Baptist) proclaimed the good news to the people.  While it is true to say that there is so much sin, darkness, evil and bad news swirling around us; it is also true to say that there is so much good, light, grace and good news swirling around us.  So, on this Gaudete Sunday, and perhaps for the rest of the Advent/Christmas season we might bite our tongues when we are about to be prophets of doom and gloom.  Instead, let us be inspired by John the Baptist and be prophets of the Good news to the people.