In the third post in our series of Advent reflections, Christopher Furmage of the Diocese of Motherwell thinks about the theme of rejoicing in the readings of Gaudete Sunday.
On the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as ‘Gaudete Sunday’, we light the rose candle on our wreath. The word gaudete comes from the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass: Guadete in Domino semper (Rejoice in the Lord always).
Throughout the first reading from Zephaniah, we are encouraged to exult, rejoice and shout for joy. Moreover, we are told that it is not only the people of God who is rejoicing; God is also shown to be rejoicing with his people.
In the second reading, Paul says that we should always be happy in the Lord and that there is no need to worry – all we could need can be provided by God. In the Gospel, John the Baptist tells the people that the Christ is coming, as they themselves had expected.
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.
– Entrance Antiphon, Gaudete Sunday.
The theme for the third week of Advent is very clear. We must rejoice and know that we are approaching the moment of the birth of Christ. This is reflected in the Scriptures. John’s whole mission was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, who is “the Lord, the king of Israel” about whom Zephaniah prophesied. The prophet tells Israel that the Lord is in their midst; Paul reminds the Philippians that “the Lord is very near.”
On this Gaudete Sunday, we prepare ourselves for the birth of the Messiah and welcome this thought with joy.