Gaudete Sunday

12-16-2012Weekly ReflectionDeacon Mike Bachynsky

Greetings to all with Anticipation and Joy,

So why is Fr. Jack wearing that pink garment today? Well, we would officially call the color "rose" and the outer garment is called a "chasuble," but somehow I like saying Fr. Jack is looking stylish and svelte in pink today! Today is the Third Sunday in Advent and is known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for "Rejoice." So, you might say to yourself: "Advent should be a happy time since we are getting ready for the coming of the Christ child. Yes! But not only. In addition to being a season of joyful expectation, Advent is also a penitential season like Lent. And Advent has a counterpart Sunday in Lent known as Laetare Sunday where the priest and the deacon wear rose-colored garments. The point of both days is to provide us encouragement as we progress toward the end of each respective penitential season.

But why does Advent have a penitential quality like Lent? Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ. And one way to prepare is to do things differently than we normally do. And so we had a 40 Hours Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament at the beginning of December. We have a Penance Service tonight at 7pm so we can prepare our hearts and souls for the coming of Christ.

The season of Advent originated as a forty day fast, (does that sound familiar?), in preparation for Christmas. It commenced on the day after the feast of St. Martin (November 12th), and so it was often called "St. Martin's Lent." It was known by this name as early as the fifth century. In the ninth century, the duration of Advent was reduced to four weeks, and by the twelfth century the fast had been replaced by simple abstinence. Today, there is no required fasting, but Advent still has the characteristics of a penitential season, making it a kind of counterpart to Lent . Gaudete Sunday in Advent parallels Laetare Sunday, the middle (or third) Sunday of Lent. Flowers may be seen on the altar, the priest and deacons wear the rose vestments and the rose Advent candle is lit.

And the readings today are much more upbeat than the ones we have heard during the first two Sundays in Advent. In the First Sunday of Advent, Luke prophesied that "people would die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world." Last week, Luke warned us to: "Prepare the way of the Lord . . . every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low." Certainly these two gospels are not brimming with yuletide cheer. But today in the first reading we hear Zephaniah proclaim: "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!" And St. Paul in the second read‐ ing is amped up also: "Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: rejoice!" That's four exclamation points in two readings. It's not often you see exclamation points at all in the scriptures. Although we are in a period of preparation for the miracle of the incarnation, the readings today are a reminder that the Lord is near to us. But we should also remember that the Lord is near to us not only at Christmas, but every day of the year. There is a joy and confidence that God is with us always, during good times and bad times. And when we pray to Him, he answers our prayers in His time and His way. He is a God that loved us so much that He sent His Son to save us from ourselves and our sin. No matter how many things we get wrong, no matter how many times we follow our often misguided culture instead of God's law, our God is ready and willing to forgive us. Not once, but every time we embrace Him in the Sacrament of Penance. How awesome is that! And so, in this season of preparation, take some time today to rejoice and thank God for all that He has given us and will continue to give us.

Have a joyous Gaudete Sunday!!!!

Deacon Mike