11 December 2016 – Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete)

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Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, one of the penitential seasons of the liturgical calendar. During Advent, we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Savior into the world.

This preparation can take many forms, including devotionals such as the Rosary, novenas, Advent calendars, and Advent candles and wreaths. Sometimes there is fasting among the faithful, and always the liturgical color is purple, symbolic of solemnity and somberness.

Except for today. Today’s candle and vestment color is rose. Today, near the midpoint of the Advent season, we are reminded to be joyful. “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

During Lent and during Advent, we are given sort of a break in our solemn preparations. But while in Lent, the rejoicing of Laetare Sunday implies open rejoicing, showing our joy, during Advent the Gaudete joy is rather internal, between us and God…or rather between us and the baby Jesus.

When I was a child, the Christmas season was always characterized by silence, peace, still nights, often slowly falling snow, and always carols and sacred music. It was a contemplative time. It was a personal time and I was comforted by the images of the manger, the Holy Family, the adoring shepherds and animals. In fact, I was rarely in a somber mood and saw no need for rejoicing on the third Sunday. But I was a child, and I thought as a child, and the anticipation of Christmas was more about the feasting and the celebrating and the gift giving.

But I was putting material things in place of the Holy Spirit, wasn’t I? Don’t we all?

Let’s go back to the Introit, the introductory part of the Mass and read the words again: “Rejoice in the Lord always.” How I missed the whole message!

Jesus told us, “The kingdom of God is among you.” He was saying that he was the One the Pharisees were awaiting, the Messiah, and here he was standing among them. And now that he has come among us, not the just Pharisees, but all of us, we must recognize his presence: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

“Hold on a minute, Brother!” I can hear you say. “How did we get there so fast? It’s not even Christmas yet and you’ve jumped ahead to Jesus’ meeting with the Pharisees! Back up!”

OK, I’ll back up.

Let’s look at the First Reading wherein Isaiah is describing how the land will be when God finally comes among us and rescues us from the desert of sin and death. “Glory,” “splendor,” “vindication,” “joy and gladness.” All of these things will come to pass eventually. But for now, we must wait in anticipation.

And today’s psalm also speaks of the wonders of the Lord and his love for everyone and how he will reign forever.

Then James tells us to be patient. “Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.”

And finally, the exemplar of waiting, of anticipation, of preparation for the coming of the Kingdom, John the Baptist finally can wait no longer and asks Jesus, in the Gospel, if he is “the one who is to come.”

He is coming. He is near. He is here. “The kingdom of God is among you.”

So on three Sundays in Advent, we are solemnly waiting, contemplating the day of his coming, performing our devotionals, and on one day in Advent, Gaudete, we are reminded that the kingdom of God is already here. Jesus is standing among us, as he stood among the Pharisees, and telling us, in the present and continuing tense, Maranatha, The Lord is come.

And being the mortals that we are, we need that reminding over and over. For some of us, myself especially, we need that reminder daily.

Maranatha – The Lord has come, the Lord is coming, the Lord is come. “Come, Lord” we entreat.

So let’s look today through rose-colored glasses and see the world as it really is, blessed by the coming of our Lord, full of love, life, and hope.

And so we pray, Gaudete!

(Play this hymn sometime today. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omtAIwRsy5c)

Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.

Puer natus is a 14th Century hymn written for this time of year.

 Puer natus in Bethlehem, Alleluia.
Unde gaudet Jerusalem. Alleluia.

Hic jacet in præsepio, Alleluia.
Qui regnat sine termino. Alleluia.

Cognovit bos et asinus, Alleluia.
Quod puer erat Dominus. Alleluia.

Reges de Sabâ veniunt, Alleluia.
Aurum, thus, myrrhum offerunt. Alleluia.

Intrantes domum invicem, Alleluia.
Novum salutant principem. Alleluia.

De matre natus virgine, Alleluia.
Sine virili femine; Alleluia.

Sine serpentis vulnere, Alleluia.
De nostro venit sanguine; Alleluia.

In carne nobis similis, Alleluia.
Peccato sed dissimilis; Alleluia.

Ut redderet nos homines, Alleluia.
Deo et sibi similes. Alleluia.

In hoc natali gaudio, Alleluia.
Benedicamus Domino: Alleluia.

Laudetur sancta Trinitas, Alleluia.
Deo dicamus gratias. Alleluia.

tr. Hamilton Montgomerie MacGill, 1876A Child is born in Bethlehem;
Exult for joy, Jerusalem! Alleluia.

Lo, He who reigns above the skies
There, in a manger lowly, lies. Alleluia.

The ox and ass in neighbouring stall
See in that Child the Lord of all. Alleluia.

And kingly pilgrims, long foretold,
From East bring incense, myrrh, and gold, Alleluia.

And enter with their offerings,
To hail the new-born King of Kings. Alleluia.

He comes, a maiden mother’s Son,
Yet earthly father hath He none; Alleluia.

And, from the serpent’s poison free,
He owned our blood and pedigree. Alleluia.

Our feeble flesh and His the same,
Our sinless kinsman He became, Alleluia.

That we, from deadly thrall set free,
Like Him, and so like God, should be. Alleluia.

Come then, and on this natal day,
Rejoice before the Lord and pray. Alleluia.

And to the Holy One in Three
Give praise and thanks eternally. Alleluia.

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One comment

  1. philipfontana

    Chip, Your sermon for Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, is as beautiful as “Puer Natus in Béthlehem.” Thank you for this reminder of the spirit. You would have made an excellent priest!!!! Wishing you, Susan, & family a joyous Christmas & a cheerful & healthy New Year 2017! Glad to see you on WordPress with a website…..I now “Follow”!!! Bravo!!! Phil & Geri too!

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