The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians

3rd Sunday of Advent - Gaudete Sunday - Year A, 15th December 2013

Today is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday, which means “Rejoicing” Sunday. That is why, on this Sunday, we have lit the pink candle on the Advent Wreath rather than another purple one. The readings, the prayers, in fact everything we hear in the liturgy today speaks of joy. There are two Sundays in the year when the focus is on joy – that makes joy stand out as having a particular importance in the church’s year. 

And yet, joy is not something that we experience all that often. In fact, we live our lives very often in the shadow of difficulties, sadness, and challenges that make it very difficult to think of ourselves as being joyful. There is nobody here tonight who is not familiar with the pain of loss; the hurt of relationships that have entered into difficulty; the loneliness of being bereaved; or the isolation of having been rejected. Life is not, unfortunately, easy. There is a jewish proverb, in fact, that says that if God lived on earth people would break his windows. When there is so much pain and hurt it seems strange to be told to be joyful – it’s a bit like being told to get out there and enjoy yourself when you are really not up to it.

However, before we get too despondent, it’s no harm to remember that there is a difference between happiness and joyfulness. Happiness is something that can come and go; joy is something that we can, if we are lucky enough, find deep within ourselves. Happiness is what someone will probably experience on their wedding day; joy is the reason they get married in the first place. To be loved and to know that you are loved is, for most people, the place that they find joy in their lives.

We come here, we gather as a community of faith. We do so because we know that we are loved by God; we also know that we are called to love one another. We have, deep within us, the certainty that we are loved by God – the cause of our joy. We are sent to be the bearers and the causers of that joy for those around us. We are the people who are the salt of the earth. We are sent to use this salt to bring flavour to the lives of those around us. Just as food can be bland and tasteless without a little bit of salt, so life can be dull and joyless without the warmth, understanding, appreciation, and acceptance of others with whom we share our daily lives.

This joy stuff is not easy. It is not easy to be the bearers of joy in a busy world where people have little time for each other. That is why Christians are so important in any society. Christians, that’s us, believe that we are made in the image of God, each and every one of us, and that we are truly wonderful and amazing creations of God who continues to love us in an unquestioning and total way. Our gift to the world is to be people who shine that joy, that love, by the way we treat others.

And what about all the pain and all the hurt? There is a story about a man who was babysitting his niece. He hated babysitting. After just a little while the little girl got out of bed and said she couldn’t sleep. He wanted to get rid of her so he found a magazine with a picture of the earth in it. He cut the picture up into 100 pieces and told her it was a jigsaw and that she wasn’t to come back near him until she had it finished. To his surprise she came back in just 5 minutes with the jigsaw completed perfectly. He couldn’t understand how she had done it so quickly so he asked her. She explained that she didn’t know what the world was supposed to look like but that on the back of the picture there was a picture of some people and she knew that if she could put the people back together then the world would be all right.
In the middle of all the pain and hurt that we find in our lives if we could just remember that little story. If we can put one another back together, then the world will be all right. 

We can’t change what has happened. We cannot undo the past. We can, however, all of us, help each other through. Each time that we try to put people back together we are shining that light of joy in a world that can seem very dark; we are also reminding those around us that they are not alone and that joy, that the experience of being loved, will be a source of strength for them.

So, Gaudete, Rejoice, give thanks for being the bearer of this great gift; rejoice also that there are those around you who will do their best to help put you together again.


Article posted on 14th of December 2013

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