The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice”. Gaudete Sunday is the mid-point of Advent and it signifies the growing nearness of Christmas Day. This anticipation of Christmas should of course focus on Jesus who is the true source of joy (hence Rejoice Sunday). But what do we mean by joy? We can derive joy from material things: when we buy a new car or move into a new house. We can be joyous when we go on holiday or start a better paid job. But according to St Paul, joy is one of the fruits of life rooted in the Spirit. We find true joy from three sources. First, from going beyond selfishness as it is in giving that we receive. Second, from appreciation of all the goodness and beauty around us (i.e., God’s creation). Third, and most importantly, from our belief in God whose love is manifested in so many ways.
We can also take joy from who we are. One of the ways God manifests His love is in creating us in his own image. There is good in all his creation, most especially us. To recognise this good, we need to love ourselves as God created us. Jesus says “I am ..” seven times in John’s Gospel. John the Baptist says “I am not …” three times. He is not Christ, not Elijah nor the prophet promised in the time of Moses. Like John, it is good to know and accept our limitations. It does away with the pressure of pretence and role playing. John was enthusiastic in his ministry but had the humility to know when he had to step back from the limelight. He was the voice at the service of the Word. Like John, there are things we can do well but we must also recognise our limitations … and rejoice when it’s others’ turn to use their talents for the glory of God.