Howdy brothers & sisters in Christ! On our Advent journey we come now to Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent. Gaudete is a Latin verb that means rejoice. Why does Jesus, in union with His body the Church, call out to us to rejoice this Sunday? Well, it’s all about the season of Advent being a penitential season. At the heart of the word penitential is penance, which is something we do to help us repent, which literally means to have a change of mind. For example, a small penance could be giving up sweets so that whenever you crave sweets you can take that craving and say, “ah Jesus, you know I’m wanting goodies right now, but it’s your love that I want more than anything, so please fill me Jesus!”
The three pillars of the penitential seasons of Advent & Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These are God-prescribed biblical prescriptions for helping us to turn our thoughts, feelings and desires (that’s the biblical meaning of the heart!) to God more and more. We fast in various ways to hunger for God. We pray more to spend more time consciously in the presence of God who is always present to us. We give alms (charitable giving to the poor and/or ministries that help the poor) because giving to the poor helps us to be true to our royal bloodlines. We are sons and daughters of God, who is endlessly generous and as the scriptures say “lifts up the poor.” (1 Sam 2:8) While we’re at it, here’s one more: “Whoever cares for the poor lends to the Lord, who will pay back the sum in full.” (Proverbs 19:17) Ah the practices of penance are good for the soul, thank you Jesus for penitential seasons!
This third Sunday of Advent, we Gaudete (rejoice!) because we are over halfway through our Advent journey…getting closer to the glorious 50 day Christmas season celebration. Yes, we celebrate 50 days of Christmas in the Catholic Church, woohoo! And make no mistake about…the Lord is bringing gifts. Jesus tells us, “give, and it will be Given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Lk 6:38) The practices of Advent change us, allowing us to give our lives more to God, who in return, fills our lives with more of Him. He’ll take all the space we give him! He said yes to the manger, and He’s got no problem with saying yes to all of you and me.
Rejoice! We’re a week out from Christmas and no matter how your advent journey has gone it’s not too late to prepare the inn (our hearts!) for the Lord. Let’s spend this week praying more, doing some fasting and some good for the poor…all out of love for Jesus, who wants to continue to transform us from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18). Rejoice friends, our savior is coming to us with new graces this Christmas to help us know Him & Our Father & the Holy Spirit more. Rejoice and prepare the Inn, Jesus is coming anew to me and you!
God Bless – Fr Patrick