Well here we are at the third Sunday of Advent – often referred to as Gaudete Sunday – we have passed the midpoint, and the Church lightens the mood a little as we approach the Christmas season. Today, the third candle of the Advent wreath, traditionally rose-colored, was lit at our 10.45am service.
In the traditional Latin Mass marked for today the introit antiphon begins Gaudete in Domino Semper ‘Rejoice in the Lord Always’ echoing the words of St Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians.
Advent is a time for us to be reflective in our faith but today, we are reminded that it is also a time to look forwards towards the hope and comfort that Christmas brings and so it is a time for joy.
We all know that it isn’t easy to be joyful always. As we listen to the news, as we look around us there is so much anxt in the world. So much distress on an international, national and personal level.
There can be very few people this year who can say that they have a worry free life.
The past months have been difficult for us all and even for the most robust in faith, it has been hard to find ‘joy always’. But I think this is because we associate and measure joy in our limited, worldly way. Joy, as it is referred to by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, is the deep rooted joy that has trusts and has faith to know that whatever we face, God will be alongside us and at work in our lives.
This fact gives us inner assurance that however difficult life may seem, however things might get us down, whatever hardships we face, we still have so much to be joyful for and our joy must spill over and be infectious.
Our joy comes from the certain knowledge that God came to live among us in the shape of a baby born in Bethlehem and He continues to be with us – Emmanuel – literally meaning ‘God with us’, God alongside us in every situation. This is the promise central to our faith and should give us reason to rejoice, to find joy, whatever the circumstances we find ourselves.