In this beautiful homily for 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C, Father Hanly shows us why we must rejoice on Gaudete Sunday.
Readings for Third Sunday of Advent, Year C
- First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18
- Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
- Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
- Gospel: Luke 3:10-18
Today is “Gaudete” Sunday. The word means “rejoice.” But it means more than just rejoice, it means to jump and dance, clapping your hands and stamping your feet with wild abandon.
“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” so says St. Paul to his people, the people of Philippi.
Why? Because the Lord is nigh, the Lord is near, he is at our very door… and so is Christmas, too.
Today you also might have noticed that the pink colored candle in the Advent wreath is all lit up. This custom goes back to the 7th century and it is telling us to get ready for “the coming of the Lord,” the birth of the Child.
Why the color “pink”, why not silver or gold?
Because (listen carefully now) “pink” is the color of the white clouds when struck by the rays of the morning sun, announcing the coming of dawn…the dawning of a new day, a new beginning, a new start, perhaps even a new life…it’s a herald of hope for the future.
Advent means “the coming,” the coming of the Lord. Advent for Christians everywhere is a season of hope and longing, and of joyful celebration.
For Charles Péguy, the great French ‘Advent’ poet, who died in the 1st World War, for him Advent is all about the three cardinal virtues.
We all know, and have been taught as children, that it is the three cardinal virtues that binds us to God and God to us: Faith, Hope and Charity (or Love).
And Péguy in his lovely poems has given them a new life. He depicts Faith, Hope and Love as three women:
For Péguy, Faith is a mother standing like an oak tree, strong and unyielding, down through centuries and centuries, protecting her children, keeping them safe from danger and all harm, while we like the birds of the air will always find shelter and safety in her branches .
And what of the virtue of love? Love is a Sister of Mercy, a Sister of Charity, compassionate and giving, standing under the oak tree passing out bread to the hungry, feeding and comforting the poor and the needy, down through centuries and centuries.
And what of Hope? For the Poet, Hope is “the little girl who rises each and every morning and wishes me good-day.”
Three lovely images: two strong and valiant women, and a cheerful little girl. Faith, hope and love.
Now who do you think is the most important of the three?
In the eyes of the Poet, it’s the little girl, of course.
Ah, she may be helpless, needy and poor, but look again! It is always Hope who runs on before Faith and even before Love with a heart full of joyful anticipation. Faith and Love are vital to the family but they will always follow Little Hope, for it is she who leads them on.
And the reason is that faith and love are concerned with the present, what must be done in the here and now; but it is the Little Girl who looks to the future and all its possibilities with confidence and, yes, with hope in her heart.
And is it not a truism often heard among us that we are safe and sound as long as we have Hope?
And why should this surprise us?
After all, did not the whole world wait with breathless expectation, the heavens above and the earth below, wait upon the response of an unmarried maiden from Nazareth, not much older than a Little Girl named Hope, Mary, who held our future in her hands and spoke the words to the Angel Gabriel that changed our whole world: “Be it done to me according to your word.”
And so the Christ Child was born to us, on that First Christmas Day.
Hark now hear the angels sing,
A new king born today.
And man will live forever more,
Because of Christmas Day.
Mary’s Boy Child