The 3rd Sunday of Advent. Gaudete Sunday

The 3rd Sunday of Advent. Gaudete Sunday

The 3rd Sunday of Advent.

Gaudete Sunday

It’s your choice to rejoice


The 3rd Sunday of Advent in our Catholic tradition is called “Gaudete” Sunday, it means, “rejoice”. Gaudete in Latin is an imperative, it means act, do something.

Our readings are terrific this is because they display to us all sorts of hints, as to what makes us joyful. How do we find joy?

God’s whole business is joy. God’s whole life is joy. God is a trinity of persons; the Father empties himself in love for the Son. The Son empties himself in love for the Father. The Holy Spirit is the love that’s shared by the Father and the Son. Joy comes from this great act of letting go of oneself. Which is why God is nothing but a community of joy.

Why did God create? Our tradition says that God did not create out of need. It’s as though God’s joy bubbles over.


God’s whole business is joy. God’s whole life is joy

“The good is diffusive of itself” said St Thomas. When you are in a good mood you bubble over in joy. You want to express yourself. You want to tell the people about it. God is always in this bubbly, diffusive, joyful state of being. And all of creation, insects, trees and plants, human beings, the stars and the moon, the distant galaxies, the whole expanse of the universe…..every bit of it is the result of the divine joy. How often do we think about that? How often does that come to mind? God is joy and the world is the outpouring of the divine joy.

Jesus could not have been clearer. Why did he come? “I came that you might have life and life to the full….I have come that you might experience my joy and experience it to the full” (John 10,10 and 15:11). That’s in that wonderful last supper discourse in John’s Gospel. Jesus came not first of all to give us the law, judge us, but to give us joy. That’s what Christianity is about. When we forget that, we forget the essential element in it.

St Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Thelogiae, this great work of Christian theology, in the question on the moral life, he begins with the question concerning joy. It’s terrific. The moral life begins with joy.

The Church once again presents us with John the Baptist to prepare and guide us towards the feast of Christmas. Scholars say he waited at least 15 years for the day when he would proclaim… “Behold the Lamb of God..”. St John the Baptist was a man of joyful hope.

tumblr_murvhha7Zs1so22nbo1_1280Charles Dickens presents us in the character of Ebenezer Scrooge someone who is totally the opposite of John the Baptist. He is the man who hated Christmas, he wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary for Christmas, he had stopped waiting, his heart was shut, there was no more joy he had last hope. In the character of Scrooge Dickens paints the heart of many humans today in our modern world, who have lost all hope and their hearts are closed and sad.


The beautiful 2nd reading today, taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, is actually where the word Gaudete really comes from. 19 times in this short letter St Paul speaks about rejoicing and being joyful. Amazingly this letter was written from prison where Paul risked even eminent death! Paul had learned to be joyful in every situation. “Rejoice in the Lord…”. For St Paul it’s an imperative, a command, Rejoice!. Joy is something we can be commanded to experience. It’s like an action, if we just sit around, waiting passively, for something to come around and make me joyful, well then you are not going to be joyful. Joy is something we can be ordered to do.

How so? “Everyone should see how unselfish you are”. Christians here is the clue, the key, God is joy, why? Because God is love, those 2 go hand in hand. God is joy because God is a communion of love. Why can Paul say, “Rejoice” as a command? Because he is commanding us to be unselfish. You are joyful in the measure that you forget about yourself and look to the other in love. Like a simple act of caring for someone around you. We are surrounded by people whom we can love, people who need you in some way. When you find yourself depressed, act, be selfless, everyone should see how unselfish you are. And that’s where joy comes from. That’s what it is.

perfect love casts out all fear

“Dismiss all anxiety from your minds

Listen as Paul goes on… “Dismiss all anxiety from your minds….Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and petitions full of gratitude”. Every word of that is terrific. Dismiss all anxiety from your minds……what did Jesus say? “Perfect love casts out all fear”. The opposite of love is not hate, the opposite of love is fear.

Where does anxiety come from? Anxiety comes from the conviction that we are in charge of our own lives. We fret because I’ve got to make things right. I’ve got to determine how things go. We dismiss anxiety from your minds, when you hand your life in love over to God and you say “You are the Lord of my life”. He wants us to turn our lives away from our own obsessions and anxieties and to turn to him. It’s true in the lives of all the saints. At some stage they said; my life is not about me, it’s about God and I’m going to let God run my life. In that moment and in that measure we find joy.

What makes God happy? When we find joy. God’s joy is when we find joy.

So today… RejoiceGaudete !