Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. The word “gaudete” is Latin for “rejoice.” We refer to this Sunday as Gaudete Sunday because the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass is “Rejoice.” The antiphon is as follows:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near.
Today the pink/rose candle is lit on the Advent wreath as a symbol of rejoicing as we approach the coming of our Infant King at Christmas. Many priests and deacons will also wear rose colored vestments today, one of just two days in the liturgical year that the rose color is worn. The other is during Lent on Laetere Sunday.
My friend, Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey, offers a personal reflection on what Gaudete Sunday means to him.
An amateur’s reflection
As I was praying morning prayer I realized that today’s reading in the Liturgy of the Hours was the same reading as last Sunday when I was assigned to lead the prayer for our group of deacon candidates. As candidates we pray morning and evening prayer every day, just as priests and deacons promise to do. When we meet for our monthly formation weekend we do so in community and one of us is assigned to lead. When it’s our turn to lead we also deliver a short reflection on the reading as a way of getting comfortable with preaching.
Seeing that today’s reading from morning prayer was the same as last week’s, I thought I’d share my reflection with you. The reading I’m reflecting on is from Romans 13:11-12.
11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Brothers, regardless of how much progress we’ve made in our spiritual lives, if we are not vigilant, we are all susceptible to falling from grace. If we don’t nurture our relationship with God through constant prayer and engaging in good works then we will start to look towards the finite passing pleasures of this world to satisfy our hungry hearts. As we spend time daily with our Lord we must be honest about our sins, repent, and pray for the virtues that oppose them.
As Paul explains in today’s reading, we must cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. We must put on the 7 virtues which are directly opposed to the 7 deadly sins:
- We put on HUMILITY to overcome PRIDE
- We put on ADMIRATION to overcome ENVY
- We put on MISSION to overcome SLOTH or LAZINESS
- We put on GENEROSITY to overcome GREED
- We put on FORGIVENESS to overcome ANGER
- We put on ASCETICISM to overcome GLUTTONY
- And we put on CHASTITY to overcome LUST
When we put on the armor of the 7 virtues, we are then drawn to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We all know what they are…
The Corporal Works of Mercy
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit the imprisoned
- Bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
- Admonish the sinner
- Instruct the ignorant
- Counsel the doubtful
- Comfort the sorrowful
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Forgive all injuries
- Pray for the living and the dead
By performing these works of mercy we continue the process of dying to ourselves so Christ can live in us and we in him. In this coming Year of Mercy let us ask Christ daily to show us how we might each be God’s instrument of mercy and ask for the grace to embrace the works of mercy in our daily routines. In doing these works we will cultivate the FRUIT of the Spirit in our lives: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit will lead others to experience the love and mercy of Christ and it will nourish and strengthen us to be the spiritual warriors we are called to be.
A pro’s homily
Bishop Robert Barron offers weekly sermons via his Word on Fire podcast. I love his homilies and always draw inspiration from them. Here’s today’s: