The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word meaning “rejoice.”
Rose vestments are worn on this Sunday, to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.
Only 10 days until Christmas. Less than two weeks is another way of saying it. Either way, it’s not long to wait. That’s why this Sunday is a joyful reminder that our salvation is near.
As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes on the ‘joy’ which should be in our hearts because the birth of our Saviour is close at hand.
The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing close when the Lord comes again to human souls as once he came to Bethlehem.
We are the spiritual Bethlehem’s, where Jesus is born anew, again and again, he Journeys once more over the rugged road from Nazareth to Bethlehem, he encounters on His way souls that are lost to earthly vanities, and souls that have strayed away from him.
We see the practical reason for the Church crying out to our soul: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord: make straight in the wilderness His paths, then shall you see the salvation of God!” Despite our self-praised progress in our world, it’s evident that real joy is missing from our modern life. In such a desert we look to Christ. Only He can bring light to the darkness of our minds, deliver and forgive us and say to us who lose hope, ‘Take courage.’
The truth is that there has always been a wide variety of opinions about how God acts in and through creation, about, who he is.
In today’s Gospel we find John the Baptist shut in a prison – full of shadows and forebodings. The Messiah whom he believed he recognized, does not behave like a sovereign judge. Nor does he act as the unrelenting executor of God’s judgement against sinners. Confused and helpless, John sends to Jesus to enquire: “Are you really the Messiah whom we await – you who are non-violent, forbearing and forgiving?”
This question echoes down the centuries and challenges us today more than ever, faced as we are with God’s silence and passivity before our own de-Christianised society. We expect answers from the gospel, but instead the gospel seems to pose us further questions!
Where we expected to find ready-made solutions, we find instead an invitation to formulate our own. We expect to find miracles only to find the gospel following nature’s process of slow germination.
We find it difficult to admit that Christianity is a matter of liberty and love –hence a matter of faith and risk.
Like John, we need to enter into our spirit and recognize the real face of God in the countenance of Jesus Christ – “the humble and merciful deliverer.”
Blessings ~ Fr George Carlos SDB