The third Sunday of Advent is known as “Gaudete Sunday.” The day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete (“Rejoice”). Its name is taken from the entrance antiphon of the Mass, which is: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near. This is a quotation from Philippians 4:4-5, and in Latin, the first word of the antiphon is “gaudete”. We are most of the way through the season, closer to Christ’s birth and so that is the emphasis rather than coming again.
We light the rose colored candle in addition to the other 2 violet ones. Purple is a penitential color of fasting while pink (rose) is the color of joy. Long ago the Pope would honor a citizen with a pink rose (or a rose) Priests then would wear pink vestments as a reminder of this coming joy. Rose is also used during Laetare Sunday (the fourth Sunday of lent) to symbolize a similar expectation of the coming joy of Christ’s coming in Easter. The third Sunday of Advent is rose (pink) because pink symbolizes joy, the joy that Jesus is almost here. Adult Christian Ed discussed “Rejoice! What promises of God give you cause to rejoice?”
Theologian Henri Nouwen described the difference between joy and happiness. While happiness is dependent on external conditions, joy is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing — sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death — can take that love away.” Thus joy can be present even in the midst of sadness. Jesus reveals to us God’s love so that his joy may become ours and that our joy may become complete. As Nouwen says, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”
This is break from some of the penitential readings earlier in Advent. How will you express joy this week? Consider the good things that have been given to you.
Besides the emphasis in joy, this is also “Stir up Sunday!” The collect has the words, ” Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins”. Let’s change the “our sins” to “missing the mark.” How can we hit the mark ? One way is to advantage of our opportunities.