Gaudete Sunday (3rd Sunday in Advent); Year B
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus. Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything – hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.
May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.
If you are needing something to really cheer you up this weekend – or at any point – look on Twitter this weekend and look for the Catholic Priests. They love this Sunday it is one of only 2 days in the whole year where Rose Vestments are the norm – and priests love it.
This is a special Sunday for the Church – Gaudete Sunday. Pope Francis translated it as a ‘Sunday of Joy’. The Pink is the middle ground between the Purple Repentance of Advent and the White Joy of Christmas.
That word, “Gaudete” is Latin for “Rejoice”. But there’s more to it than that. Latin is a funny language and verbs have different forms. To be specific “Gaudete” is the second-person, plural, active, imperative form of the verb…which if you bear with me I’d like to explore.
Second-person means ‘you’. It’s what you use to talk about someone you’re communicating to. It doesn’t mean me, the speaker – and it doesn’t mean only other people – it means something directed expressly at you – the reader.
Plural means more than one. This isn’t an exclusive thing. It isn’t only for a single person – it isn’t only for you, the reader, but for everyone. It includes you, the reader, sure, but isn’t only for individuals. If it for you and for many.
Active means that something isn’t just happening – but it is being made to happen. It requires that people are participating in the action, or even producing it. This isn’t some passive event or feeling – but is caused by something.
And Imperative means that it is a command – it isn’t just a recommendation or a simple suggestion, but something we are being compelled to do.
So, let’s put this together: Many of us around the world are being compelled to participate in a great rejoicing. And that is the simple message of the very first sentence of Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians: “Be Happy at all times” – and is that not where we are at the moment?
We prepare for Christmas with great joy; we prepare to celebrate the end of a trying year and we are almost compelled to celebrate the discovery of a vaccine that will hopefully allow us to live as we did before. But more so, we prepare to celebrate the birth of the child who will save us from sin and death – and sometimes we need to be compelled to rejoice – or reminded that “God has called you and He will not fail you”.