The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday. It gets its title from the Entrance Antiphon for Mass: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5). Gaudete is the Latin word for ‘Rejoice’, thus this Sunday being named this way. To highlight this joyful attitude we are commanded to have, the Church permits her clergy to wear rose vestments on this Sunday.
Joy is a word that we often associate with Advent and Christmas. The birth of Jesus was a joyful event. At the Mass during the Night on Christmas, the Gospel from St. Luke recalls that moment when the angel appeared to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem with these words: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” (Lk 2:10-11)
Joy is a gift that we all desire, yet it can often be elusive. In our attempt to experience joy, we grasp at things that may bring pleasure and happiness, but we often find that those feelings last only for a while, and we go back to the same source, or look somewhere else to find something that we hope will fulfill us. But true joy is a gift we cannot buy, cannot take, cannot own. Joy is a gift that can only be received from the one who alone can give it, our Lord.
In his homily last Saturday during our Immaculate Conception Novena, Deacon Larry Smith reminded us that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Just as a piece of fruit cannot come about except from a tree or plant, so too can joy only come from the source which is to be found in God. The more we share in the life of God, living according to His will, following His teachings, and remining in His grace, the more we will experience the true joy for which our hearts long.
The Sacrament of Confirmation increases the Gifts of the Holy Spirit within us, and the more we allow those gifts to guide us, the more plentiful will be all of the fruits of the Spirit, which, in addition to joy, are as follows: charity, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. As we slowly read that list, do not our hearts burn within us, desiring to have those fruits a part of our lives? We cannot go to the grocery store to pick up these fruits. We cannot order them on the Internet. We cannot create them with anything that we have. Only God can give this gift. And the good news is this: He wants to give these fruits to us in abundance! With that in mind, how can we not rejoice?
As we continue our Advent journey toward Christmas, in addition to praying: “Come, Lord, Jesus”, let us be quick to add: “Come, Holy Spirit”, that our hearts will not put up any resistance to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, which will yield an abundant harvest of His fruits for us to enjoy.