Thoughts on the Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent (Year C)
By Fr Charles FSDM
Today’s readings move away from the somewhat gloomy forecasts of death and destruction that have run through some of the readings for the last few weeks. There is indeed a lightening of mood even down to the vestments worn by the Celebrant at Holy Mass, which today may be rose (pink) instead of the penitential purple.
Today, traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, we are exhorted to “Rejoice, for the Lord is at hand”. The name Gaudete Sunday comes from the words of the Introit – “Gaudete in Domino semper”, Rejoice in the Lord Always.
We are reminded of these words in the Second Reading, from St Paul’s letter to the Phillipians. St Paul reminds us that the Lord is very near and tells us that he wants us to be always happy in the Lord. The message St Paul gives us is that we shouldn’t worry, because God will provide what we need if we pray to Him with thanksgiving. Don’t worry, be happy because the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will enlighten our hearts and minds.
This underlines a very important point in the Gospel, where we hear St John the Baptist telling us what we need to do to prepare for the coming of our Saviour – to make a firm and conscious effort to repent and change our lives. Now this might not seem to be the sort of thing to rejoice about, but let’s for a moment make a comparison. Compare welcoming Our Lord into our hearts and minds with receiving visitors into our homes. We like to make sure that everything is clean and tidy for our visitors, nothing is too much trouble in terms of tidying and cleaning our home, so St John tells us that the same really applies when welcoming our Lord and Saviour into our lives. Repentance and changing our lives are the spiritual cleaning – prayer being our “housework” – preparing our hearts, minds and souls for the coming of our Saviour.
It might be very hard work, but at the end of the day it is something that can be rejoiced about, because it shows Him of our love for Him and His Father and acknowledges His love for us and as St Paul says, makes us happy in the Lord.
Still waiting, in joyful hope.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.