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A Reflection for Gaudete Sunday

Gaudete or "rejoicing" Sunday is the Third Sunday of Advent. The third candle on the Advent Wreath is lit and the Church's liturgy becomes more focused on the coming of the Lord at Bethlehem. At this half-way point in Advent, it's time to consider how our Advent preparation has gone so far and how we, like John the Baptist, can "prepare the way of the Lord".

Today is often called Gaudete, or ‘rejoicing’ Sunday. The name comes from the Entrance Antiphon to the Mass: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say rejoice! The Lord is near.’

The Lord is near! Two weeks of our Advent preparation have already passed – today the priest may wear pink vestments, the third candle on the Advent Wreath is lit, and during the next few days the Church’s liturgy will turn more attentively to the coming of the Lord at Bethlehem.

But what about us? Half of Advent is already gone. Have we made any spiritual progress, given any more time to prayer, are we really any better prepared to greet the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day? Once again today, the Gospel reading focuses on John the Baptist, the faithful witness, challenging us too to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ and to make a home for him in our hearts.

‘What does “to prepare the way” mean, except to pray as you ought, to be humble minded? Take an example of humility from John himself. He is thought to be the Christ, but he says he is not what people think. He knew where his salvation lay. He understood that he was a lamp, and he was afraid of being quenched by the wind of pride.’ (St Augustine).