Tag Archives: Gaudete Sunday

11 December 2016: Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Is 35:1-6a, 10 Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10 Jas 5:7-10 Mt 11:2-11

Advent: rejoicing in our waiting

Rose_banner_smThe third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete (gow-DAY-tay), a Latin word meaning “rejoice,” comes from the entrance antiphon for the day:


Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete: Dominus prope est.
"Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice: the Lord is near."

The antiphon reminds RCIA participants and the believing community that our time of waiting is almost complete: the Lord will be with us soon. For today only, the liturgical color changes from purple to rose to indicate joy during the season of preparation and metanoia (change of mind/heart).

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah foretells a post-exilic restoration in which the Jewish people return to God and their homeland, and God performs acts of power that only God can do. The Lectionary editors chose this reading for Gaudete Sunday to remind us that, like the Jewish captives in Babylon, our God is coming to save us; Jesus’ incarnation fills us with everlasting joy.

In the second reading, the author of the letter from James asks us to be patient, not only as we await “the Lord’s coming” (Jesus’ return at the end of time, the parousia), but also with one another as we struggle with our own human failings. The Lectionary editors chose this reading for Gaudete Sunday to remind us to look forward with rejoicing not only to Jesus’ parousia but also to Jesus’ incarnation.

In the gospel, Matthew captures two questions that reveal the identities of Jesus and John the Baptizer:

  • Who is Jesus? From prison, John sends his disciples to Jesus to ask: “Are you the coming one, or should we expect another?” Jesus answers by repeating Isaiah’s prophecies about the messiah (see today’s first reading). Jesus tells John that the restoration of Israel John preached (see last week’s gospel) is coming to pass, but not in the way John expected. Jesus’ mission is healing, rather than avenging. Jesus concludes with a beatitude addressed to John: John should not be offended and disbelieve because Jesus doesn’t meet John’s expectations.
  • Who is John? After John’s disciples leave, Jesus asks the crowds who saw John: “What did you come to the wilderness to see?” Jesus answers his own question, telling the crowds that John was a prophet–and more than a prophet. John not only foretold the “coming one” (the messiah, Jesus himself), but also fulfilled the Hebrew scripture prophecies of Exodus 23:20 (“I send my messenger before you”) and of Malachi 3:1 (“he will prepare the way”). Jesus concludes by saying John is greater than all Hebrew prophets: John alone announces the messiah is here. Jesus also says John is least in the kingdom: John only prepares the way for the kingdom, unlike the disciples who live in messianic times and who live in the kingdom.

While RCIA participants and the whole believing community wait and prepare, we should also rejoice. The Lord is near. Jesus has come in history and saved us. Jesus comes sacramentally every day to be with us. Jesus will come at the end of history to bring us into the kingdom. God has restored and continues to restore God’s people. Isn’t our metanoia and our restoration a reason to rejoice?

—Terence Sherlock

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13 December 2015: Third Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
 Zep 3:14-18a  Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6  Phil 4:4-7  Lk 3:10-18

 

Advent: a sense of nearness and rejoicing

Amid our Advent waiting and preparation for the Lord’s coming at Christmas, the Lectionary tells RCIA participants and the believing community to rejoice at God’s closeness.

The first reading is from Zephaniah, who prophesied in Judah between 640-622BC. Zephaniah’s writings and oracles are not hope-filled. However, in this passage, Zephaniah describes Israel’s restoration after its judgement. It is a scene of happiness, song, and rejoicing. When God restores Israel, the people will find “the Lord is in your midst.” When the early Christians heard this passage, they were reminded of Jesus’ coming in the flesh–Emmanu-El, “God-with-us.”

The second reading, from Paul’s letter to the Philippian ekklasia (believing community), gives this Sunday its name: Gaudete Sunday. The Latin word gaudete means “let us rejoice.” Paul tells the Philippians to “rejoice always; rejoice!” because “the Lord is near.” Although Paul is writing about the parousia, Jesus’ second coming, the Lectionary editors place this reading in Advent to emphasize the Lord’s nearness through Jesus’ Incarnation.

Luke’s gospel continues from last week. This week Luke tell us more about John the Baptizer’s teachings and identity:

  • John’s teachings: Three groups ask John the Baptizer for specific advice about how to live. John tells the crowds to share what they have with those who are in need. He tells tax collectors to take nothing more than their assigned share. He tells soldiers to be satisfied with what they have, not to extort (literally “shake down”) people, and not to slander. This is good life advice for any disciple in any age.
  • John’s identity: The people begin to wonder if John the Baptizer is the messiah. “No,” John says, and highlights three differences. First, John baptizes with water; the coming one will baptize with fire and the Spirit. Second, the coming one will be powerful–the Greek word means “physical power,” “strength,” or “might.” Like many first-century Jews, John may have understood the messiah as a political or military leader. Third, John believes the messiah will come to judge everyone. He gives an extended image of winnowing (separating the wheat and chaff), saving the wheat in barns, and burning the chaff in “unextinguishable file.” Luke tells us John the Baptizer “announces the good news”–the nearness in time of the messiah.

While RCIA participants and the whole believing community wait and prepare, we should also rejoice. The Lord is near. Jesus has come in history and saved us. Jesus comes sacramentally every day to be with us. Jesus will come at the end of history to bring us into the kingdom. God rejoices and sings because God’s people have been restored. Isn’t this why we, too, rejoice?

–Terence Sherlock

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