“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4: 4-5)
This second reading from today’s mass, along with the entrance antiphon taken from this same scripture passage, is where the term ‘Gaudete Sunday’ comes from. The word Gaudete in Latin means to rejoice. On this Sunday, the liturgical color can be changed to rose from the Advent purple. Rose, while in the same color family of purple, indicates a more hopeful and joyous turn to the season – we are halfway through the period of waiting, watchfulness and expectation for Christ’s coming.
We once again hear about John the Baptist is this weekend’s gospel – ‘I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming… He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16) Our song for the preparation of the gifts reflects the theme of John the Baptist. It’s the last weekend that we will hear of his proclamation of one coming after Him. We are getting closer to the end of our period of waiting and preparing. Are you rejoicing always? Are you making your kindness known to all? Are you praying with thanksgiving?
Some history on the old familiar Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” that we sing at Communion: This hymn is originally taken from a Chant mode established in France in the 15th century. The text is based off from the ‘O Antiphons’ that begin on December 17th (Friday) at Vespers (Evening Prayer) during the Office Hours (the prayer of the Church). (The text comes from Cologne, Germany – that’s the Cathedral that has the remains of the 3 Kings inside at the back.) These antiphons are recited prior to the Magnificat and refer to various titles of Jesus from scripture:
December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
This coming Tuesday, December 14th, we will celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a communal service for the parish, beginning at 7pm. Following are some Biblical passages that refer to this sacrament for reflection:
“Return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” – Joel 2:13
“Let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool.” – Isaiah 1:18
“Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you.” – Isaiah 54:10
“If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2
For a reminder on a couple of the teachings on Reconciliation, these excerpts are taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1457 According to the Church’s command, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year.”…
1458 Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful….