Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

Rejoice…. The Lord is in your midst.
(Zephaniah 3: 14-15)

Today is Gaudete Sunday — meaning “to rejoice”. As Advent draws to an end, the Church calls us to rejoice because the birth of our Saviour is now very near. Yet, even as we rejoice, it is a challenging call and reminder to be attentive to use the time left wisely, and to prepare ourselves for his coming.

Our Advent preparation is primarily spiritual: the conforming of our mind, heart and soul to God by allowing his grace to work within us. First and foremost this means a commitment and fidelity to daily prayer and meditation — to generously “waste time with God” in his presence. Secondly, a good Confession, as we place ourselves in the merciful heart of the Saviour who came to forgive and redeem us. Thirdly, nurturing our love and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament by our worthy reception of him in Holy Communion at Mass. Fourthly, by heeding Jesus’ answer to those who asked him in today’s Gospel, “What must we do?’ to which he relied simply to be faithful to the life and vocation God has given you.

So simple, yet so hard to put into practice! But, with faith in God and our sincere efforts, everything is possible. If our spiritual preparation is authentic, it will lead naturally to good works of charity (love) and mercy (forgiveness) towards others. We could even say that this is a litmus test, because if this does not happen, then there is a contradiction between what we say and what we do.

Mary, Mother of the Word made Flesh and Help of Christians, pray for us, your children. Lord Jesus, help me by your grace to become more and more like you each day and to walk always in the path you have laid out for me. Amen Lord God, may we, your people, who look forward to the birthday of Christ experience the joy of salvation and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.