Joshua Moir from the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh this week reflects on Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent.
Today is known in the Church as ‘Gaudete Sunday’, a day set aside by the Church to rejoice. In the college, we have special reasons to rejoice this year, with the ordination of one of our community last week in East Kilbride and the ministry of Acolyte that will be given to the fourth years at Mass today. Today also marks the start of the last week of class for us before the holidays, a fact that leads us all to rejoice.
With the end of term so close, and Christmas Day itself only eight days away, it’s almost inevitable that our eyes are turning towards the end of the Advent season. I think this holds true more generally too- we’re all cleaning up the house to have the family back home or buying a few last gifts, anticipating the end of Advent and the arrival of Christmas.
In all this, Gaudete Sunday can seem a bit of an interruption to the ‘flow’ of Advent, even down to the colour of the priest’s vestments at Mass (which are pink, no matter how much we seminarians call them ‘rose’). It reflects another Sunday of the year, the only other day of the year the rose vestments are needed: Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent. Both of these Sundays break up the season in which they take place and give us a moment out. And that is what today is supposed to be; a moment out from the rush that preparing for Christmas can be and give thanks for the grace of Advent so far.
In this moment of rejoicing and thanksgiving, we remember especially the grace of waiting in patience and hope for the coming of Jesus. We find too an opportunity to reflect on how Advent has gone for us this year and ask ourselves how spiritually prepared we are for the coming feast. If at some stage in these long three weeks we’ve become lost in our preparations, we can take today to start afresh and commit ourselves to preparing with renewed intensity throughout this last week of Advent.
Today then should be an interruption. It interrupts our planning and hurried gift-buying for next week, and turns our mind back to the present, asking us to remain in patient waiting for just a little longer and rejoice in it.