Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, Gaudete.
Rejoice in the Lord, always: I say it once more, Rejoice.
The entrance antiphon for this Third Sunday of Advent also gives this Lord’s Day its popular title: Gaudete Sunday. With Advent more than half over, the Church anticipates the rejoicing that we will know on Christmas Day, when we celebrate the Nativity of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Joy is more than a feeling. All “feelings” are passing fancies that never last. Just because one feels happy, doesn’t mean that this is truly fulfilling. This is where the spiritual life comes in. Pope Francis so often warns that what is proposed as joyous and happy in this life is really the product of a self-centered, consumer mentality. Such a “feeling” does not come from one’s heart. As such, the fleeting sense that all is well is inevitably found out that, in the end, all is not well.
The Greek word, which would have been used by Saint Paul in the Scripture passage above, is Χαρά [Chará]. It is so much more than an outward show of happiness, laughter and the like. Χαρά has, as its essence, an inner tranquility that cannot be shaken or disturbed. It also means that a person delights in the joy of others. The latter meaning early Christians would apply to God and our Lord Jesus Christ as souls were fully conformed, by cooperating with God’s grace, away from sin and living the life of the Gospel.
On this Gaudete Sunday, let us both pray and work to achieve this joy by asking that God’s grace flood our lives through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After all, Saint Paul in his Letter to the Galatians tells us that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is joy! (See Gal 5:22.)