Third Sunday of Advent
On the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Catholics are encouraged to reflect on joy as Christmas approaches. The Latin word gaudete means “rejoice,” and the name Gaudete Sunday comes from the first word of the day’s Entrance Antiphon: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4–5).
Joy is sometimes considered to be synonymous with happiness, but joy is deeper than good feelings. St. Paul notes joy among the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).
In the first paragraph of The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis states that joy is found through encountering Christ. “With Christ joy is constantly born anew,” the Holy Father states.
Joy is recognized by the peace that accompanies it. This fruit of the Spirit can be seen in people who have endured hardship and pain but keep their focus set on God. They may be poor in material goods but generous in spirit. They understand that no earthly thing can tamper with their relationship with God. For them, joy is rooted in a hope that lasts, as Pope Francis notes in The Joy of the Gospel:
Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress (6).
The joy-filled know that they are dependent upon God. Among them are the poor who will take part in the Kingdom of God, the hungry who will be satisfied, the mourners who will be comforted, and the peacemakers who will be called children of God. They know that with God all is well, and all shall be well. The prayers in Advent assure us that Emmanuel, God is with us, provides the strength to wait in hope. Advent invites the faithful to cultivate joy while awaiting the coming of Christ again. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Pray. Praying in hope opens hearts to experience joy.
- Keep an Advent journal. Keeping tabs on the moments that bring joy throughout the day, no matter how insignificant, helps people to be aware of the joy that exists in their lives.
- Help those in need. As Pope Francis says, “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the seashore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others.”
Joy is the magnet that attracts believers, and as
such it is the best form of evangelization. As Mother
Teresa said, “Joy is a net of love by which you can