From the early Church, the faithful have been reminded of how important it is to keep our hearts focused during the Advent season. On this Third Sunday of Advent, we switch away from the purple colors on the Advent wreath as well as the priest’s vestments which are changed to the color of rose. It also has a special name called Gaudete Sunday which comes from the Latin word meaning to “rejoice.” This specialness draws attention to how near we are to Christmas and makes it clear why the theme of this week is joy!
On Gaudete Sunday, the season of Advent shifts its focus. For the first two weeks of Advent, the focus can be summed up in the phrase, “The Lord is coming.” But beginning with Gaudete Sunday, the summary might be, “The Lord is near.” This shift is marked by a lighter mood and a heightened sense of joyous anticipation. (Gaudete Sunday)
Allow the following Scripture passages to speak joy into our hearts as they show us just how near the Lord is to us:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
- God hears our prayers and fills us with joy when we ask. Our God is near, and our hearts believe. With faith we call out – Come, Holy Spirit, renew joy in our souls and enable us to develop a more profound relationship with God.
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3
- Look hard and you can find that joy will persevere even when difficulties occur. Joy is the wellspring of God’s graces within that allows us to endure. He never abandons us to bear our crosses alone. Emotions come and go; but our ability to endure suffering remains consistent — union with God. Let us look back at a tough spot in our lives and see how we grew closer to God in that moment of pain. Embrace God’s nearness as a moment of joy!
Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9
- God is always there with us even though we cannot see Him with our human eyes. Joy comes from knowing that throughout our life, God is working out our salvation. Let this fill our souls with overwhelming joy!
Although I have much to write to you, I do not intend to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and to speak face to face so that our joy may be complete. 2 John 1:12
- God came to Earth to be among us! He shared His love and His time. He did not stay distant from us in His Heavenly throne but walked the human life like us in all things but sin. During this time of pondering on what special gifts to give our families — remember the greatest gift of all is being fully present with those we love. Take time to really be with someone we love without the modern distractions that pull at our attention. That personal encounter facilitates a much deeper experience of authentic joy.
One has joy from an apt response; a word in season, how good it is! Proverbs 15:23
- Jesus spoke words that were so filled with life and love that it brings joy to our hearts when we reflect on His word. He came to speak in the way our hearts could comprehend and in a living way that touches our being. What words have we shared lately that produced joy in others and in our hearts?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
- Allow the love of the saints and, ultimately, of Jesus on the Cross to increase your capacity for joy! Protect our hearts from sin by clinging to the Sacraments and living our lives with intentionality. Joy comes from being united with Christ in this life and in the next. With His help, we can increase our joy and spread it wide into the world.
What has recently filled you with joy? Share your reason with someone close to you today so that God can intensify joy in both of you!
Gaudete Sunday article retrieved from https://dphx.org/gaudete-sunday/
Author: Laura Stephens, FF Sacrament Preparation Catechist