Third Sunday of Advent - Year C, December 16, 2018

This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete (pronounced GAW day tay) Sunday.  The word “Gaudete” means “rejoice” or “joy”.  On the Advent Wreath, Gaudete Sunday is symbolized by the pink candle.  Pink is somewhat purple, and somewhat white or like purple mixed with white.  Some advent wreaths have a 5th candle, a white candle, in the center that is lit on Christmas and represents Jesus Christ, the light that came into the world to dispel the darkness of sin.  We are closer to the first Advent (coming, arriving) of Christ Jesus and this Sunday marks a point during Advent that is more than half way to the arrival of the Messiah.

Our first reading is from the book of Zephaniah.  Zephaniah assures us that once we have reformed and are living in fidelity to God we will no longer have any fear or anxiety because God will remove from us our sin. When we repent and turn back to God, He will renew His love for us.  Therefore, we should “…shout for joy!”  The word “repentance” is a translation of a Greek word which literally means “change of mind”.  In the Scriptures it is a two-fold turning – away from sin and toward God.  When we turn, or repent, it is more than a mental adjustment to our attitude, it actually requires us to produce “good fruits as evidence of your repentance.”  John the Baptist drives this point home in his answers to the crowd, the tax collectors and the soldiers.  He tells them to “repent” and then tells them to show/prove their repentance through deeds, like giving food and clothing to those in need, not collecting more taxes than people owe, or not bullying people but be fair and honest.  They must prove their faith through works of charity, social justice and honesty.  During Advent, we are all called to repent, to turn away from sin, and turn back to God and prove our repentance through our works.   

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again:  rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all.  The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Phil 4:4-7
Not only are we rejoicing at the coming of the Lord, but at His nearness to us always.  St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, instructs us on prayer.  First, we need to recognize the presence of the Lord and rejoice!!  Then, he tells us to pray often, bringing our petitions to the Lord and offer our prayers not just with “petition” but with “thanksgiving”.  The Philippians believed so strongly in the constant presence of the Lord that when they petitioned in prayer they were immediately thankful for the answer that they were confident was forthcoming.  God loves us and hears prayers and will respond for the petitioner’s good, which is not necessarily what we think we need or want. 
Reflect on these aspects of Advent individually.  Reflect on rejoicing at the Advent of the Lord, and His continuous presence in our lives.  Reflect upon your own repentance, your “turning” away from sin and toward God.  Reflect upon the peace of God.  ACT in ways that support your intentions, your faith.  Give clothes and food to the poor.  Be honest when dealing with others.  Do not cause suffering of other people through injustice.

Our Psalm this week is Isaiah 12:  Cry Out With Joy

Have a blessed 3rd week of Advent!  Rejoice!

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