Rejoice in the Lord always!
Advent is a penitential season albeit less so than Lent. Hence flowers are removed from the church, the Liturgy is more subdued, the Gloria is not said and purple vestments are worn as a sign of our repentance. Three of the candles on the Advent wreath are purple, and last Sunday we heard St John the Baptist calling us to repentance to prepare for the coming of the Lord.
But this Third Sunday of Advent, some flowers are restored and we lay aside the penitential purple, and use rose coloured vestments instead. A rose coloured candle is lit on the Advent wreath and we are told to rejoice, because being over half way through Advent, Christ is now very near. And so the Introit or Entrance Antiphon and the Second Reading for today’s Mass are taken from St Paul to the Philippians 4:4-5;“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say,rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near.” The Latin word for rejoice is gaudete, and hence this Sunday is also known as “Gaudete Sunday.”
Notice St Paul says rejoice in the Lord– that is in the Christian life. When we follow JESUS and try to give up sin we will find happiness. It doesn’t mean we’ll never face troubles in our lives, because pain and suffering are just part of the reality of life which we all have to face at some point. But we can have an inner peace. The saints had this, even in times of trial and suffering because they knew they were keeping God’s Law and being pleasing to Him. And this is where true peace comes from – knowing we are doing the Will of God.
Recently canonised martyr St Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was once asked by a reporter whether he knew people wanted to kill him. He replied, “You can tell them they are wasting their time. They can kill a bishop but they cannot kill the people of God, the Church. If I am killed I will rise again in the people of El Salvador.” An inspiring example I think of being joyful in the Lord in the face of trials and difficulties.
Inner peace and joy are the result of hard work and sacrifice and it will cost us to acquire them. It is only when we receive our heavenly reward that we shall enjoy perfect peace and joy as a reward of our faithfulness and perseverance on earth.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC