Today our Church celebrates the third Sunday of Advent also known as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin. This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose (or pink) colored.
Growing up I was always excited to see the pink candle lit – it meant just two weeks until Christmas. And my excitement and anticipation would intensify tenfold. I knew that Christmas was still two full weeks away but we were already halfway through Advent. Halfway through our time of waiting!
So lighting that pink candle was a time for rejoicing. And it still is.
Today of course I am less excited about what gifts will be exchanged (although gift-giving is still a joyful experience) and more focused on Christ’s coming. As Catholic Christians we celebrate Christ’s coming at Christmas in three ways:
His coming as an infant over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.
His coming at the end of time.
His coming in our lives today.
While images of tiny baby Jesus are sweetly sentimental (and for those of us that have been parents or babies perhaps easy to relate to) and imagining the majesty of end times can be quite awe inspiring, for me receiving Jesus in my heart and home at Advent and Christmas is most significant.
I need Jesus here and now to help me put my life into perspective. I need His loving example to help me deal with relatives that always seem to be the least lovable at Christmastime. I need Jesus’ wisdom to decide how to give gifts that honor His birth while still meeting the needs of those that I have gifted. I need His patience to allow the holidays to “unfold” and not become a raving madman because something doesn’t go as I planned. I need Jesus’ forgiveness for all of the times that I will fail to be loving, giving, and patient.
Today I’m filled with joyful anticipation. Because very soon He will come. He comes with love. He comes with wisdom. He comes with patience. And He offers me forgiveness.
I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul. Isaiah 61:10