GAUDETE: Rejoice! This Sunday, Advent takes an especially hopeful outlook, as we look forward to Christ’s fast approaching Nativity. In just a week’s time, we will behold him in the flesh as he was beheld by his mother, Mary, by Joseph, by the shepherds and by the angels, for the first time in Bethlehem two millennia ago. To mark this expectant joy of hers, the Church allows the use of rose liturgical vestments on Gaudete Sunday, rather than the penitential violet which dominates the rest of the Advent season.
Gaudete in Domino semper… ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men. The Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous; but in every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 4:4-7).
This week’s antiphon comes from Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. ‘Rejoice in the Lord.’ Why rejoice? ‘The Lord is near.’ S. Paul is making a direct allusion to Christ’s second coming – a theme important for Christians to bear in their hearts during Advent. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Anna, Simeon, the Old Testament Prophets – all these eagerly awaited the first coming of the Messiah. But now Christ has already come once to make his tent among us – should we not just as eagerly await his coming again in glory?
Gaudete: Rejoice, for true Christian joy cannot be contained. It must flow out of ourselves into the life of God, through our prayers and petitions, and that of others, through our interactions with them. From the virtues of faith and hope, we must let God make us grow in the virtue of charity. Thus the hopeful which we carry in our hearts will be the prelude to that ‘peace of God which surpasseth all understanding’, come to make its home in our minds and hearts.