WITH ST. MARY'S
THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Despite sufferings and penance, we rejoice in hope.
THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
On the Third Sunday of Advent, we briefly pause the penitential spirit of the season in order to refocus our attention on a necessary component of the penitential life - gratitude and rejoicing. This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday; priests and deacons will be wearing the color rose rather than the color violet, as a physical sign that this Sunday is unique within Advent. While Advent is meant to be a season of penance with the coming of the Lord in mind, there ought to be rejoicing tied to our penance, because we know that our Savior is near. We can also apply this to the span of a human life, as well: in the midst of suffering, pain, and loneliness, rejoicing in the hope of Christ’s nearness through patience allows us to remember that this is ultimately a journey of faith, hope, and love.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
The act of rejoicing symbolized in the third Sunday of Advent, otherwise known as Gaudete Sunday, is deeply tied to the virtue of patience, particularly in the face of suffering. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us to rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, and persevere in prayer; rejoicing on this day in the midst of the penitential season of Advent will increase the virtue of hope within our hearts for the coming of the Lord. The first reading from the book of Isaiah speaks about the inevitable return to Zion for the Jews from exile; once we return to where we were always meant to be, mourning and sorrow flee. In the context of Christ and the New Jerusalem, this homeland is now the bosom of God, close to His heart; this is where we will soon return. The second reading, though, comes from another Apostle, James, who echoes the message Paul shared with the Romans: be patient with your suffering while you wait for the Lord. Clearly, God is trying to tell us that true rejoicing and true blessedness can only be cultivated in the environment of patience; so easily, we can become distracted by the little problems and pains of life, but why should we worry when we know our time is soon at hand? Awareness of our goal makes patience easier, and to be patient immediately allows us to rejoice in hope. This message is given its final and most powerful emphasis in the words of Christ through the Gospel. John the Baptist had amassed quite the following, despite the fact that he lived in the wilderness and by all accounts appeared to be a wild man. People went out into the wilderness to see him. Christ asks the crowds, what did you expect to see in the wilderness? Comfort? Riches? Someone in fine clothing? No. People went after John because they knew he had the Truth, and the Truth lived among desolation and suffering. In a sinful world, the Truth remains living among desolation and suffering. We knowingly wade through all of this in order to get to the Truth. A life of Truth isn’t meant to be comfortable, rich, or adorned in fine clothing. But we can rejoice because what awaits us is what we were meant for. It just requires a bit of patience as we go out into the wilderness to seek it.
Family activity to do at home: Throughout the season of Advent, families should maintain their own Advent wreath in their homes so that the focus of the season may be properly oriented to preparing for the coming of Christ. It's an exciting thing, especially for children, because it enables them to count down the days until Christmas in a truly holy manner. The lessons attached to the lighting of the Advent candles on the wreath can also be an opportunity for families to remain in this mindset of preparation.Throughout the season of Advent, follow these family activities so that you can know how to maintain the prayers involved in the Advent wreath with your family. For this third week of Advent, follow the prayers below as you light the third candle of your family Advent wreath.