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Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent, which is called Gaudete Sunday; Gaudete is Latin for “rejoice.” This Sunday we light the rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath, the priest wears rose vestments, and the whole Church invites us to celebrate joyfully.

Of course, we should celebrate; we are more than halfway to Christmas! We will find this joyful spirit in today’s first reading. In it, the prophet Isaiah offers us a powerful image of the messianic times; it is when the expected Messiah, the Christ (in the Greek language) will come to save His people: “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers and rejoice with joyful song.” (Is. 35:1-2)

Although this is a poetic and prophetic image, it correctly reflects the radical change that was established in the world and, in fact, in the entire universe. Jesus Christ’s coming inaugurated the fullness of time in which His Church plays a key and sanctifying role for all mankind. As we read in the document of the Second Vatican Council named Lumen Gentium (48), the promised change and revival of the world has already begun in Christ. “It is continued in the mission of the Holy Spirit. Through the Spirit it goes on developing in the Church.” Here in the Church, “we are taught by faith about the meaning also of our life on earth as we bring to fulfilment the work that has been entrusted to us in the world by the Father, and so work out our salvation.

Further, the same document reminds us that God’s plan of salvation is a continuous process and no one and nothing is able to stop or change it.

“The end of the ages is already with us. The renewal of the world has been established, and cannot be revoked. In our era it is in a true sense anticipated: the Church on earth is already sealed by genuine, if imperfect, holiness. Yet, until a new heaven and a new earth are built as the dwelling place of justice, the pilgrim Church, in its sacraments and institutions belonging to this world of time, bears the likeness of this passing world. It lives in the midst of a creation still groaning and in travail as it waits for the sons of God to be revealed in glory.”

This is a true perspective of our life as human beings and members of the Holy Church. It allows us to see purpose in this passing life, and to gain a perspective which is optimistic and joyful. The entire Advent Season, and specifically today’s reading, gives us powerful encouragement to have such a joyful attitude.

Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord!

Fr. Mark Jurzyk