“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
We have come to the third Sunday in our Advent journey. On this day we are reminded to rejoice always in the Lord.
The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday, which comes from the Latin Introit for the Service on this Sunday.
“Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus: Dominus enim prope est. Nihil solliciti sitis: sed in omni oratione et obsecratione cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestræ innotescant apud Deum. Benedixisti Domine terram tuam: avertisti captivitatem Jacob.”
The introit is translated:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all, for the Lord is near at hand; have no anxiety about anything, but in all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.” Philippians 4:4–6; Psalm 85
Advent began as a 40 day fast in preparation for Christmas and Gaudete Sunday as a break from the harshness of the fast for one day of feasting. Laetare Sunday is the counterpart of Gaudete Sunday that falls on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
The appointed readings for this Sunday focus on this idea of rejoicing always and the continuing mission of John the Baptist.
Renowned theologian Henri Nouwen describes the difference between joy and happiness. Nouwen says that happiness depends on external conditions. At the same time, joy is “the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing – sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war, or even death – can take that love away.”
As a reminder of that joy, we light the one rose candle in the Advent Wreath as a sign of that joy.
Rejoice in the Lord always; Again, I say, rejoice!