We are already in the third week of our journey through Advent’s preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas time. The third Sunday of Advent, which we celebrate today, is called the Gaudete Sunday. The name of this Sunday comes from the first words of the Entrance Antiphon at Mass: Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete: modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus prope est. [Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.]
These words come from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, who often times calls the people to rejoice, even in difficult living situations. In particular, St. Paul writes this letter while he is in prison. We are to be joyful because the ultimate cause of joy for a Christian is a faith rooted conviction of the constant presence of God in our lives.
There is one more name for the Third Sunday of Advent: The Rose Sunday. This name comes from the color of the liturgical vestments for this day: rose (not pink). This liturgical color (used only twice during the liturgical year: the Third Sunday of Advent and the Fourth Sunday of Lent) points to the color of the sky at dawn. It pictures the glare of Jesus Christ coming to us on Christmas. The coming Christ, the Emmanuel and our Redeemer, is for us the Light that enlightens the gloom of our lives imprisoned by sin and death, like the rising Sun enlightens the gloom of the night. This theological image can be found in the words of Zachariah: “who from on high will bring the rising Sun to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet to the way of peace.” (cf. Lk 1, 78n)
The joy of Christmas does not come from the emotional exultation, but from the authentic religious experiences of God coming to us in the form of an infant child. It is the joy of being a Christian who is visited by his only Lord that brings peace to his heart. I pray and wish you all to experience this joy and peace.