The third Sunday of Advent is known as “Gaudete Sunday.” Its name is taken from the entrance antiphon of the Mass, which is: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.’ This is a quotation from Philippians 4:4-5, and in Latin, the first word of the antiphon is gaudete (Latin, “rejoice”)
Advent is the season of preparing for the arrival of the Lord Jesus (both his first coming and his second coming). By the third Sunday of Advent, we are most of the way through the season, giving us reason to rejoice as we see the goal of the season approaching: “The Lord is near.”
Christian Joy is not just a matter of being happy or being with out sadness, it is deeper relationship with Jesus Christ founded on our faith and hope in his eternal salvation. It is this Good News which gives us cause for our joy. We are called to be joy-filled witnesses to the risen Lord.
Happiness is external. It’s based on situations, events, people, places, things and thoughts. It is dependent on outside situations, people or events to align with our expectations so that the end result is our own happiness. This leads us to unending searches for thing, events and relationships that only bring us glimpses of peace and joy. The world calls us to be happy.
Joy is internal. Joy is not affected by changing emotions, circumstances or externals forces. Joy comes from finding peace with who we are, where we are, why we are, and who we are with. It is about letting God be god and knowing that he made each of us unique. It is about humbly accepting his love for us and sharing that love with others, knowing that abiding joy is found in the salvation of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). He said this at what he knew would be his last meal – teaching us that joy is not only present when good things are happening to us. God calls us to be joyful.