"Study in pink flowers" by Flickr user photogirl7Happy Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent which calls us to “rejoice!”  We get a nice break from the penitential color of violet for the joyful color of rose.  The color of approaching dawn!

It’s sad, but Gaudete Sunday is usually when I am finally able to settle down into a still, quiet, contemplative state of being.  Sad because, well, I wish I could be this way for the first 2 weeks of Advent too!  But at least I can properly observe the latter half of the season.

I absolutely love the Mass readings for today, especially this passage from the prophet Isaiah:

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;
for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
As the earth brings forth its plants,
and a garden makes its growth spring up,
so will the Lord GOD make justice and praise
spring up before all the nations.

Such beautiful imagery!  And we do have ever so much in which to rejoice in our Lord, if only we don’t take it all for granted.  He has given us this beautiful world.  He has given us our families and friends.  He has given us His Church and the Sacraments.  Above all, He has given us Himself!

I know how easy it is to be distracted by worldly things in this Advent season; I’ve been struggling with that for the last 2 weeks.  But if we can just take even a moment to think about the Incarnation–God taking to Himself a human nature and a human life… the mighty Creator and King of the universe becoming a helpless little babe, born into poverty!–does it not humble and amaze us?  Does it not fill us with wonder?

That is our Lord and our God, so infinitely awesome and full of wonders!  So bewildering in His power, and also in His magnanimity.  His power can pierce you straight to your soul, and His mercy can not only heal and restore you, but also make you better than before.  His mercy and love are unwavering, no matter how many times or how grievously you mess up.

My heart aches because I just can’t express how very much I love and adore Him!

Our pastor gave the most wonderful homily today about what our purpose is in this world as Christians–namely to worship God and to point others to Him.  Our purpose is the same as that of the prophet Isaiah:

… to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

Our purpose is the same as Mary’s as expressed in her canticle, the Magnificat, which takes the place of a psalm today:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior

Our purpose is also set forth by St. Paul in his epistle to the Thessalonians:

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

Our purpose is the same as that of St. John the Baptist, who

came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.

In summary, our pastor said, if any of us is feeling lost or seeking direction or wondering why we are here, this Sunday is for us.

Yes, this Sunday is for us… just one of the countless and constant gifts our Lord has given us!  We have so much to rejoice for… and so very much to be grateful for!  Gaudete, fratres!

(Photo:  “Study in Pink Flowers” by Flickr user photogirl7)