Sunday, Third Week of Advent
Blessed Gaudete Sunday!
Gaudete means “Rejoice!”,
and when the Mass was still done in Latin, that was the first word,
the word that set the theme, of the entire celebration for this Sunday of Advent.
Rejoice! Advent is more than half-over! Rejoice! The Lord is near!
This week we get a break from our Advent violet for the more cheerful rose.
You will probably see it in the rose candle lit on the Advent wreath this week,
and possibly even in your priest’s vestments
(although rose vestments have become rather rare).
The use of rose to mark having passed the halfway point of a penitential season
actually started in Lent.
One source claims that members of the Early Church exchanged roses
on the fourth Sunday of Lent (just past the halfway point of the season)
as a sign of mingled sorrow and joy (soft petals and prickly thorns).
What is more certain is that rose vestments are used
for the ceremony of the papal blessing of the golden rose on the fourth Sunday of Lent
(which was referred to as an ancient custom in the 12th century).
This rose, which is fragranced with incense and set with rubies (it was once tinted red),
is a symbol of Christ, the Flower that sprang from the Root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1).
The fragrance signifies the sweet aroma of Christ,
which should be diffused throughout the whole world by His followers
(see II Corinthians 2:14-15).
The color and thorns remind us of His Passion.
Once rose was established as a color of joy in Lent, it was used in a similar way in Advent.
It’s especially appropriate as we look forward to the O Antiphon for December 19th:
O Root of Jesse
A standard to the peoples,
Before Whom kings are mute,
To Whom all nations shall appeal
Come to deliver us; delay, please, no longer
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom
Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I say, rejoice.
Indeed the Lord is near.
O God, who see how Your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation,
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Opening Prayer from Mass)
Zephaniah 3:14-18 (The Lord will rejoice over you with gladness)
Isaiah 12:2-6 “Cry out with joy and gladness; for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel”
Philippians 4:4-7 (Rejoice! The Lord is near)
+Luke 3:10-18 (What should we do?)
prepares the way for joy.
Fear not, O Zion,
be not discouraged!
But we cannot be confident
we’re sure to fall…
and nothing else this world affords
will stand the test of time.
We need the Lord!
And He is here!
He’s in our midst:
the King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst…
the Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty Savior
-Zephaniah 3:15, 17
He wants to meet our needs.
Have no anxiety at all
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
make your requests known to God
Then we can say,
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid
…and we can share His joy!
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in His Love,
He will sing joyfully over you,
as one sings at festivals.
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I say it again: rejoice!
True joy is open-handed–
it bears fruit:
Your kindness should be known to all
Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.
That’s how God separates
the wheat from chaff
to save or burn.
(see Luke 3:17)
What He has given us,
we must pass on…
and spread the joy!