The holy season of Advent is a time of preparation and waiting — preparation for the coming of Christ our Savior, and waiting with anticipation the joy of His coming. We prepare our hearts for three comings of our Savior:
- His first coming as a little child — we prepare to celebrate Christmas, not as a “past and gone” event, but as something that is real and present to us today.
- His “Second Coming” at the end of time, “to judge the living and the dead.” Advent is a spiritual preparation for the Parousia, the final coming in glory, when Our Lord will bring time and this world to its final conclusion.
- His middle and hidden coming — when Jesus comes to us quietly, in the workings of His Grace, in the midst of our daily lives.
By nature, Advent is a time of anticipation and of penance; we spiritually prepare ourselves to meet our Savior — this is why the Church uses violet as our liturgical color. But the Third Sunday of Advent, “Gaudete Sunday,” is a little window into the Joy of Christmas. The priest and deacon (usually) wear “Rose” vestments (though, frankly, some of them are pink). Flowers may decorate the altar and the sanctuary. If we listen closely to the readings and prayers, we hear the theme of joy:
Zephaniah 3: “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!”
Philippians 4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: Rejoice!”
Collect of the Mass: “O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.”
Brothers and Sisters: Enter full-heartedly into the Joy of the Sunday, and allow it to be a foreshadowing of the Joy of the Coming of the Christ Child in your midst! And look forward with Joy to the coming of the Savior at the end of time, and seek to receive Him with Joy as He comes to you in the hidden and mysterious workings of His Grace during this Holy Season!