Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday, the Third of Advent, sees a lift in the tone of this season of waiting and expectation. The vestments are rose-coloured, there are flowers at the altar, the rose candle in the Advent wreath is lit.
“Gaudete” is the first word in Latin of the traditional entrance antiphon (printed on the Bulletin cover) on this Sunday, Philippians 4.4,5: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.” There has been an appropriate solemnity in the Advent liturgy as we have been invited to ponder on the coming of the Lord in judgment, hearing again the Prophets’ and John the Baptist’s call to repentance and conversion, to turning God-ward again. This antiphon’s words from St Paul remind us that we may be joyful as we wait for this coming of the Lord Jesus in the light of the victory already won in his dying and rising again. In the midst of the trials and uncertainties of our world St Paul encourages us to have confidence that God’s kingdom, of justice and love, mercy and peace, is indeed coming: cause for joy indeed.
This theme is echoed in the Advent Preface for the Mass in the Book of Alternative Services: “Now we watch for the day when he will come again in power and great triumph to judge this world; that we, without shame or fear, may rejoice to behold his appearing.”
Yes, we are all called to repentance, to conversion and newness of life, but we are invited to do so with confidence in God’s love and graciousness, “without shame or fear”, and above all, in joy.
May you know Joy, this Advent and Christmastide.