The third week of Advent is “Gaudete” Sunday. (Gaudete means “rejoice” in latin. It is a command.) This is a day when we are called to rejoice! The liturgical colour of rejoicing is pink, so we use a pink candle in the Advent wreath, to signify its difference from the other three weeks.

When considering our gospel reading for today, from Luke’s gospel, we may be forgiven for wondering what on earth John the Baptist was offering in the way of good news!

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

His words sound warnings and admonishments to a people who have strayed from the ways of God. …and yet – the people came out to hear him. Various groups heard his warnings, and asked him, “what should we do?” This is, then, good news, because the warning was heard, and people began to respond. They could see the sense and the truth in what he was saying to them.

His advice?

Be honest. Be sincere. Take only what is your right. Be generous and share whatever you have. There was a “meme” going around the internet last year, which asked; “Want to put Christ back in Christmas?” then, at the bottom of the picture of a nativity scene, it said: “Feed the hungry, welcome the outcast, visit the sick and the prisoners, and give to the poor!” There are a few different versions, but they all have the one, very powerful message.

Have we, like the people of John the Baptist’s day, lost the plot, and wandered away from Christ’s message of love and joy? I think it is hard to deny, when we look at what the world has become.

And yet….and yet, there is hope.

Our reading from Philippians encourages us:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This reading provides a powerful reflection on why we are called to rejoice. Because, no matter what we have allowed the world to become, it is redeemable. The Lord is near! His peace passes all understanding. Change can come, and it will be because of what we make known to everyone.

Christ is coming. At Christmas, and into our hearts and minds. In fact, Christ is already amongst us. This is the mystery we are called to rejoice about. Have a joyful week!

God bless you all – Jennifer

Gaudete Sunday – Advent 3