The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudate Sunday – Gaudate means Rejoice – taken from the entrance antiphon “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. The Lord is near!”
One may ask if we can really rejoice this Advent/Christmas when our brothers and sisters all over the world are suffering so much as a result of the Pandemic which has left no one untouched. These words “rejoice in the Lord always” are taken from St Paul’s letter to the Philippines which he wrote while in prison. Christian joy has its source in our faith in Jesus Christ who has come among us (Jn 1:14) and has promised to remain with us always to the end of time. (Mt 28: 20). This joy can be present side by side with great hardship, poverty and suffering as we learn from the witness of the many Christian martyrs throughout the centuries – it is a joy which nobody can take from us because it is rooted in God who will never fail us (today’s second reading at Mass).
Our liturgy for this third Sunday of Advent encourages us to open our hearts to the “One who is in our midst but unknown to us” (today’s Gospel) – the One who is coming to deliver us and who is already near (cf Vespers). He is our Saviour – the One who “binds up hearts that are broken; proclaims liberty to captives; freedom to prisoners and brings good news to the poor.” (cf today’s Gospel). As we await his coming with eager expectation let us renew our faith, hope and love for Him as we follow St Paul’s exhortation in our second reading: “always be joyful; pray constantly and for all things give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
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