Our week begins with “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. It comes from the first word of the Entrance antiphon on Sunday. The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.” This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose coloured, and the rose coloured vestments often used at the Eucharist.
“Brothers and sisters: rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice,” St. Paul commands in the Second Reading. The word for rejoice in Latin is gaudete, so quite naturally this Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday. Why all this exultation? Are we finally getting a break from the sombreness of Advent?
Yes, but there is more to it than that. Remember that Advent is like a retreat that the worldwide Church is making. In this upcoming third week we will consider our lives in the context of the great beauty God has put in us and around us. Can you think this way?
One line in the First Reading puts it in dramatic terms. Zephaniah says that the Lord “will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.”
Because of you! Have you ever in your life thought that God’s might be singing because of you? Have you ever let your image of God expand that far? Have you ever let him, in the most profound sense of the word, be one who sings you into existence?
In one of the books of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, the children are taken back to the very moment of creation. They hear the voice of Aslan (the Christ figure) singing into the wilderness. When the voice goes high, birds, clouds, blue sky appear. At a certain lengthy turn of melody the mountains laboriously raise their heads. A low hum vibrates forth the depths of seas. Creation seems to be made out of melody.
How about this for a possibility: God’s gladness sings out joyfully at every instant, and his song is the earth, the galaxies, the people and plants and chemicals and soaring hawks and encircling planets, droplets of dew and heavy black holes, youthful beauties, ancient wisdoms, and everything else that exists.
We are God’s song
Apply this, please, to Sunday’s Gospel. People in long rows gather to be baptized in expectation of the Saviour who is to come. Each segment (the crowd, the tax collectors, the soldiers) ask John the Baptist the exact same question: “Teacher, what should we do?”
"Let your life sing,” he answers.
Let it sing.
Let your life be what it is: God’s joyous, interleaved and always consonant melody, sounding outwards in deepest joy. Share your cloak and your food, collect only what is owed, do not extort, do these things and you will be sounding the true melody of your life.
Fr. John Foley, S. J.
I lift my heart up to you, Lord,to thank you for the blessings
you shower on me each day.
You are the 'joy of my soul.'I know that in your great love,
I am held and protected by you.
I pray and listen to the good news you send;I ask and feel the healing.
I am freed by you
from the things in this world
that let me hide from you.
I rejoice, I rejoice, down to my soul.Help me to prepare my heart
to be open and able to receive your immense love.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come and visit your people.
We await your coming. Come, O Lord.