Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gaudete Sunday! Rejoice because the Lord is near!

By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online (

'I am every day more convinced that happiness in Heaven is for those who know how to be happy on earth.' (St. Josemaria Escriva)

On this Sunday they are replaced with vestments of a rose color, a symbol of joy.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) – In just a matter of days we will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord. The Church as mother and teacher calls us on this third Sunday of Advent to pause from our Advent preparation. She proclaims in today’s liturgy, using the imperative case - “Rejoice!” In Latin,“Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete : modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.” In English,“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God” (Phil. 4: 4 – 6)

The Introit (or entry) of the Liturgy on this Third Sunday of Advent is taken from this letter of St. Paul to the Philippians. Its repetition as the second reading underscores the theme of the celebration, JOY. Bishops, priests and deacons have, up to this point, worn purple vestments symbolizing the penitential nature of our Advent preparation. On this Sunday they are replaced with vestments of a rose color, a symbol of joy. The General Instructions for the Roman Missal (GIRM) explain the reasons for color of our vestments: "The purpose of a variety of color of the sacred vestments is to give effective expression even outwardly to the specific character of the mysteries of faith being celebrated and to a sense of Christian life's passage through the course of the liturgical year."

In our Old Testament lesson the Spirit speaks through the Prophet Zephaniah describing a God who rejoices: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart…. The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals. (Zeph. 3) Then in our epistle, the Apostle Paul writing to the Philippians, using the command form in Greek, calls us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all.” He gives us the reason for our joy reminding the early Christians and all who stand with them in that communion of the Church, “The Lord is near.” (Phil. 4)

Our Gospel presents the words of John the Baptizer. He proclaims, and demonstrates, a way of life which should characterize those who live as though they know that the Lord is near: “The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He calls for a total re- formation of our lives. The point is an important one. Because the Lord is near we must live differently. This lifestyle will help to ensure that this joy becomes more than a passing emotion. In response to the crowds who asked whether he is the Messiah he proclaimed “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Luke 3)


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