Guadete Sunday—The Joyful Sunday of Advent
As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, “Rejoice”. Rose vestments are worn and we light the rose candle on our Advent wreath to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near.
Joy is different from happiness. Happiness is a transient experience, but joy has more depth to it, more lasting roots. It can be independent of what is going on around us. In John’s Gospel, the night before he died, Jesus says to his disciples that he wants his joy to be in them and their joy to be complete (John 15:11). And Paul writes to the Thessalonians: “Rejoice always” (2 Thessalonians 5:16).
Today’s readings invite us to think about what brings us joy. Isaiah offers images of a world that will blossom or bloom, flowering into fullness. The prophet gives us wonderful images of dry, parched land suddenly breaking into a colorful display of new and abundant life.
This fullness also results from something being restored that had been lost or that was missing from the start: sight, hearing, being able to sing and leap with joy, health of body and spirit. Such fullness comes from God. It is gift, pure and simple.
God wants us to have this fullness of life, to be sure. It will come with the coming of the Lord. In the meantime, we are to wait patiently, not complaining, but with hearts marked by certitude. We have assurance in that we have already been welcomed into the kingdom at our baptism. The rest is only a matter of time. In speaking of John as more than a prophet, Jesus concludes by saying, “Yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11).
-James A. Wallace, C.Ss.R.
Living God’s Word
We can ask God to give us that joy that the world cannot give, a joy that is found rooted in our faith in God, in our trusting that the God who raised Jesus up will also bring us to fullness of life.
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