Today is Gaudete Sunday, which means “rejoice” in Latin. Each year on the Third Sunday of Advent the Church rejoices that Christmas is almost here. Gaudete was the first word we would hear at the old entrance antiphon used at this Mass. We sacramentalize this rejoicing by changing the liturgical color to rose instead of violet: we light the rose candle on the Advent wreath and get out the rose colored vestments. You might imagine that the Church is blushing for joy as its savior draws near!
Recognize Saint Paul’s writing to the Philippians when he declares, “Rejoice in the lord always… Have no anxiety… And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (4:4-7 RSV) Again we hear of rejoicing when Gabriel approached the Blessed Virgin Mary to ask her if she would receive the savior of the world, he addressed her with a greeting which we translate as, “hail.” In the original greek language it carries a sense of rejoicing. This is the reason that the Church keeps the greeting as “hail” rather than interpreting the greeting as merely “hi” or “hello.” The angel Gabriel begs Mary to have some rejoicing as this great event of our salvation draws near! Today we rejoice that Jesus will come!