The Third Sunday of Advent is also know as Gaudete (“Rejoice”) Sunday. The word Gaudete is the first word in today’s Entrance Antiphon that was used regularly as part of the liturgy back in the day. We light the rose candle today and sometimes priests will wear rose colored vestments to mark the joy of the day.
What’s so great about this Sunday as opposed to the other Sunday’s of Advent…it seems like the Fourth Sunday of Advent should be the one highlighted, rather than the third? The reason for this special recognition goes back to the origins of the liturgy and to the readings selected for today, that highlight a special theme. Zephaniah, is very excited and encourages us to rejoice. Rejoice for the promises that God has made for our happiness and joy.
This strikes at the essence of what Advent is all about. In many ways, Advent highlights our needs, longings, hopes and desires, while at the same time rejoices in the promise of God to come to us in a tangible way to give us the joy, healing and peace we are so desperate for. So, armed with even greater hope and faith, we watch even more keenly for Christ to come to us.
Many times when we are excited, we find ourselves not really knowing what to do. The same is true for the people in the Gospel today. John the Baptist announces that God is coming to us in a unique way, very quickly and we should prepare. The people, giddy with excitement do not know what to do. They beg John to help them. John explains to them and to us, in order to be prepared for the Lord to come to you dramatically and profoundly, repent your sins, turn your life around and humble yourself before the new born Christ in your life.