By Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, also referred to as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word, calling for us to rejoice. Today we have reached the exact middle point of the season of Advent, two weeks in and two more weeks to go, Christ is soon to come.
As part of that call to rejoice, we light the third candle on the Advent wreath, noting that the color of the candle it is different from the other three. And today, priests and deacons have the opportunity to wear vestments of that same color. Officially, the Church calls the color rose; many others incorrectly like to call the color pink.
A year or two ago, I was home with family on the evening of the Third Sunday of Advent. My brothers asked me what color of vestments that I wore for Mass, and I told them that I wore rose. They tried to make fun of me for wearing pink. Outside of today and the Fourth Sunday of Lent, you probably will not see me dressed in this color. I reminded them that the color is rose and not pink. Then they asked me, “Do you like to wear this color?” To which I replied, “Two Sundays a year
But two Sundays a year, I happily wear rose vestments. I like what this color symbolizes and what the color calls us to do. In October, people wear pink in support of women’s health and this is wonderful. Wearing the color rose today is also a wonderful symbol.
Rose, Gaudete, rejoice, Christ is coming soon, this is good news, this is something for us to celebrate. We take our faith seriously and that is good thing, but sometimes I think that we can take our faith so seriously that we can forget to rejoice, to celebrate in the Good News. If our faith is not something that we celebrate, what good is our faith?
In our Scriptures today, John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus with a burning question. John wants to know if Jesus is the Christ. The signs that Jesus is performing point to him as possibly being the Christ.
When asked, Jesus does not directly answer the question. He responds by saying “The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed” (Matthew 11:5). If you were blind, lame, a leper, deaf, or poor and you got restored to good health, this would certainly be a reason to celebrate, to rejoice.
The Lord has touched our lives, and this is certainly a reason for us to rejoice and celebrate. Our world is not perfect—far from it—but when the Lord comes, the Lord will restore our world to perfection and this will certainly be reason for us to rejoice and celebrate. In anticipation of what will be, we are called to rejoice.
Even in our imperfect world, we are still called to rejoice. Mary gives us an example. As Woodeene Koenig Bricker explains in her book, 365 Mary, “It’s clear that Gabriel expected Mary to rejoice, yet he must have known that she was undoubtedly going to feel anxiety. He didn’t expect her to be happy on command, but he expect her to rejoice. Likewise, we can rejoice at all times and in all circumstances, not because we feel giddy but because life itself is a celebration.”
On this Gaudete Sunday, may we embrace the call to rejoice.
Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S., is the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Glandorf, Ohio.