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Sunday, Third Week of Advent

December 15, 2013

JMJ

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
-Isaiah 11:1

Entrance Antiphon:
Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I say, rejoice.
Indeed the Lord is near.

Collect:
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.

Readings:
Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 (we will rejoice in God’s salvation)
Psalm 146:6-10 “Lord, come and save us”
James 5:7-10 (be as patient as a farmer
awaiting the precious yield of the soil)
+ Matthew 11:2-11 (John the Baptist asks “Are You He who is to come?”)

I look and look
but do not see.
The darkness
is inside of me.

I have no hope or joy
at all–
my hands are drooping,
knees are weak–
my master’s held
in Herod’s thrall
(my tongue’s too tied to speak).

He sends me forth
to meet the Light
and I am dazzled
at the sight
of men like me
who leap and sing
before the Presence
of the King.
Their lameness gone,
their tongues set free
they are the fruit of prophesy.

This is a kingship better than
the one I sought to find.
It’s not a life of luxury,
but vision
for the blind
to see like God.

Am I following a messenger at the expense of the King to Whom he points?
Am I setting my sights too low–on earthly successes instead of eternal ones?

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