16th December 2012 – The opening words of the Introit on the Third Sunday of Advent, this year just eight days before Christmas Eve, give us a first glimpse of the glory of the approaching high feast day. The priest wears rose-coloured vestments, floodlit violet as it were, and the advent candle in many churches is also rose.
Advent is of course not as dismal as Lent, but it too is a call to repentance, to self-denial in preparation for the Birth of Christ. Thus Gaudete Sunday has the effect of a breath of fresh air, a ray of sunlight, so that we don’t forget the reason for this time of penance, which is not a goal in itself, but is oriented always towards the Incarnation, the self-giving of God to humankind.
So let us light this third candle on our advent wreath and read the words of today’s Gospel wich is taken from:
Luke 3, v. 10 – 18
10 And the multitudes asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than is appointed you.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” 15 As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people.