On this Third Sunday of the Advent season, the message is “Rejoice!” And so, this Sunday has come to be known as “Gaudete Sunday”. In the past, Advent was a penitential season – there were four fast days during this period – and the celebrant of the liturgy wears vestments with the penitential colour of purple or violet. The atmosphere was deliberately sombre and penitential.
So, in the middle of it all, people needed to be reminded of what they were preparing for – the very joyful occasion of the birth of Jesus. In the midst of all the penance and fasting, this Sunday was conceived as a window of joy and brightness in anticipation of what was to come. On this day, too, the violet vestments in many churches give way to a less penitential colour, usually described as “rose”.
And why should we be rejoicing? Because we are soon to remember that the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, came to live among us, and be one of us. Further, we rejoice because he the Lord brings such good news. The First Reading quotes, from the prophet Isaiah, a text which Jesus, in Luke’s Gospel, will apply to himself: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me”.
We are to be joyful, we can be joyful, because the Lord is coming. The Lord chooses to share our lives, at every level. He is coming to share all that weighs us down, all that is a burden for us. He comes to do that willingly and gladly. It can be easy to say what we don’t have, but we also need to be aware of the blessings that come our way, from time we need to count our blessings. In these days of Advent, let us take a moment to do that, and then we will see many reasons to be joyful.