The Church calls this Sunday “Gaudete Sunday” after the first word of today’s Introit, “Gaudete....” “Rejoice in the Lord always....”
Today is also honoured with blessed exceptions to the austerity of Advent: the organ is played at sung Masses and the vestments are rose-coloured (where available) instead of the penitential purple.
St. Paul sounds the theme for today’s liturgy with his lyrical passage from the Epistle to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again, I say rejoice.... the Lord is nigh.” Phil. 4:4-5. The tone of the language of the Church from now until Christmas is one of gladness: the Church begins her nocturnes for the office with the words, “The Lord is now nigh; come, let us adore.”
Dom Gueranger in The Liturgical Year Vol. I, p. 204 comments: “Who can be near so burning a fire, and yet be cold? Do we not feel that he is coming to us despite all obstacles? He will let nothing be a barrier between Himself and us, neither His own infinite high majesty, nor our exceeding lowliness, nor our many sins.”
The Church also conveys to us in the Gospel from St. John (1:19-28) the necessary attitudes in order to prepare Jesus’ coming. St. John the Baptist tells a delegation from Jerusalem who ask him who he is: “He said, ‘I am the voice of one that cries in the desert: Make smooth the way of the Lord,’ as the Prophet Isaiah said.” Jn. 1:23 We too must cry out that the Lord is nigh. We must also make sure His path is smooth without any evidence of sin and vice because the Lord is holy and we, like St. John the Baptist, are not fit to loose His sandals: “In the midst of you stands One whom ye know not, Who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not fit to loose.” Jn. 1:26-27
Low Mass for the III Sunday of Advent will be celebrated at 12.20pm on Sunday 13th December at St Francis of Assisi Church, Llay Chain, Near Wrexham. Click here for a location map.