Third Sunday of Advent – Gaudete Sunday
On this, the third Sunday of Advent or Gaudete Sunday, we sense a definite mood change. The austerity of what can be a sombre though hope-filled penitential season is replaced by a shift of emphasis. We see a burst of colour appearing at the Mass today as rose-coloured vestments replace the violet and we are enjoined at the Introit to: Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice or Gaudete in Domino semper, hence Gaudete Sunday. But why this shift in emphasis? We are edging that bit nearer to celebrating the coming of Our Lord at Christmas, that is undeniably true, but looking at today’s Gospel we also see that we have built upon last week’s message of preparation in Luke’s Gospel and now we see John the Baptist actively proclaiming the Coming. ‘I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming.’ John the Baptist’s proclamation is sure and certain, filled with hope and, one must assume, wholly joyful. Can we also feel in the depths of our hearts such joy as we hear this news?
To prepare meaningfully for Christmas can be exceedingly difficult. We must ask ourselves whether, amidst the tumult of our everyday lives – the rush to find the right presents, get the cards away on time, attend the obligatory functions – we are allowing ourselves to find the time to truly prepare and, more dauntingly perhaps, truly proclaim this wonderful news. That Christ dwells in us, each and every one, and that, in little over a week, we will celebrate the most astonishing and wonderful event that is Christ’s birth here in our midst, should truly fill us with such joy and peace. However, it can only do so if we allow ourselves the time to reflect, to pray and to prepare. Only then will we, like John the Baptist, be so moved by the Spirit that we will also wish to proclaim this blessed coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in a world that greatly needs to hear His message of salvation.