This Sunday is known as Gaudéte Sunday. The priest wears rose vestments and the on our advent wreath the third candle is pink. Gaudéte comes from the Latin “gaudere”, to rejoice. The first words of the entrance antiphon at Mass today are “rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice”. It is a command –“rejoice”.
The stresses and strains of dealing with the ramifications of the pandemic do not seem to help us to feel joy. How can we be joyful at such a time as this? Some of us are experiencing the loss of people we love, and some know friends and family that are ill from Covid-19. People are anxious and worried about their livelihood. We are not finding it easy to plan family celebrations this Christmas, because of restrictions about who can meet with whom. During the time of lockdown some have found it hard to pray and there are those for whom God seems distant. What is there to rejoice about?
In the first reading from the Book of Isaiah we are given plenty of reasons to rejoice, especially in these difficult times. The prophet talks about the healing of hearts that are broken, the setting free of those who are captive and in prison and giving good news to those who are poor or afflicted. The prophet is calling for a Jubilee year or a year of the Lord’s favour. Jesus read this passage at the beginning of his public ministry. He said “today these words are being fulfilled.”
God is the one who is here and the one we welcome into our world and our hearts especially this year. Jesus, who we wait for and whose coming we herald, is there one who frees us from all that keeps us captive. We are prisoners to our addictions, selfishness, bitterness, anger and resentment. Jesus will give us true freedom today. He is our Saviour. The Saviour is the one who give salves, which is healing. Thus Jesus is our healer. He is the only one who can make humanity whole. There is not just physical sickness but moral sickness in people’s lives today. Jesus is the one who makes us whole, frees us from sin and selfishness.
In the midst of the darkness, and fear of this present time let us take heart.
‘For as the earth makes fresh things grow,
as a garden makes seeds spring up,
so will the Lord make both integrity and praise
spring up in the sight of the nations.’
The mission of the Church, which is the Sacrament of Christ is for us to share the good news of Christ’s coming to us to transform our world, our lives and our hearts with his joy.