Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday, you may notice that the vestments, the altar cloth and the colours used today is different from the usual one used during the Advent season, that is, instead of the usual violet, the colour used today is rose. And there are only two occasions in the whole year when the colour rose is used, that is during today, the Gaudete Sunday, and then on one time during the Lenten season, that is the Laetare Sunday.
This Sunday is called the Gaudete Sunday because of the first words of the Antiphon for this Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, which in Latin sounds as “Gaudete in Domino semper…” which then translates to “Rejoice in the Lord always…” and thus, this Sunday we celebrate the aspect of joy of the Advent season, out of the four aspects of faith, hope, joy and love.
On this Sunday, the use of rose as the colour of the occasion mark a brief pause in the penitential nature of the season of Advent. The colour violet represent the time of renewal, of change, of introspection and of repentance from sins, the time of preparation in order to prepare ourselves well to be able to meaningfully celebrate with full participation, the occasion of Christmas, for the season of Advent, and the occasion of Easter for the season of Lent.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, indeed, during this season of Lent, it is a time for us to be prepared and be ready to celebrate Christmas with the true direction and orientation of the heart, and that is why we always have a confession and penitential session scheduled before the coming of Christmas during the Advent, so that having had our sins confessed and forgiven, we may truly and joyfully rejoice at the Lord’s coming and celebrate His majestic birth into the world.
But it does not mean that this season should be filled with gloom and darkness, or with sadness and despair. Instead, in this season, it means that it is important for us to discover the true joy that we ought to have and celebrate in the upcoming time of Christmas. What we have to be careful is that, on one side, we should not be so afraid and fearful so as to forget the joy we ought to have, and on the other side, we should not have the wrong kind of joy to celebrate this Christmas.
It is very easy for us to be distracted during this season, to be joyful for the wrong reasons. As I have often explained, during the time of Christmas, and even during the time preceding it, many of us became trapped by the commercial and materialistic excesses of how the world celebrate Christmas, through all the goods and secular celebrations that go on to exclude Christ from the celebrations that should have been centred on Him.
Christmas is a time for joy and celebration, and yet in our revelry and merrymaking, we often forget for whom it is that we rejoice, that is not just for ourselves individually, but as the whole creation of the Lord, joining our voices and praises together to our God, through Whom, our salvation had been made possible. It was through His commitment and dedication to us, His love for us, that we have hope for salvation.
Yes, as we speak of joy today during this moment of the Gaudete Sunday, it is truly perfect and very proper indeed to speak of the one true joy, that is Christ Who is our Joy. If we forget about the Joy of Christmas, then we can just forget about the entirety of the celebrations that we make during the time of Christmas, as our celebrations would be empty and meaningless.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all reflect and look deep into our own lives, and especially into our own preparation for the coming of Christmas. Do we truly have Joy in us? And why did I stress on Joy? That is because of the fact that our joy lies not in money, possessions, goods or in the things that the world can give, for these do not give us true and everlasting joy.
Instead, it is only in the Lord our God, that we can find true and lasting Joy, a joy that transcends everything and is beyond anything and any other joys that we can find. But sadly, in the midst of our enjoying of the joys and the happiness that the world offers us, we conveniently and easily forgets about Him, through Whom we may have lasting joy, and instead we often choose to take shortcuts in finding joy.
So let us ask ourselves, shall we continue on our own path as per usual, immersing ourselves completely in the festivities of Christmas without fully understanding what Christmas is truly about? Or shall we start to make a difference to our own lives, by discovering that no matter how many gifts we give or receive, or how many gifts and presents we exchanged with each other, no matter the amount of decorations we put around the Christmas tree and in our houses, the joy of Christmas is truly not in all of these.
No, it is not wrong to do all these, but we have to realise that all these are just like the icing of a cake, the ornaments and the decorations that can be excluded if necessary, but not the matter of the cake itself. For a cake that has no matter of the cake, that is the baked mixture of the flour, sugar, egg and other components is not a cake, and an icing without a cake inside, does not constitute a cake.
Thus, our Christmas joys and celebrations must be centred upon the essence of Christmas itself, Who is none other than Jesus, our Lord. He is the One Whom we are celebrating this Christmas, for it was the day of His birth into this world, a Saviour long awaited by the world long suffering in the darkness, that through His Light, a new hope arises again in the hearts of men.
So, as we celebrate and rejoice, let us keep our Lord Jesus Christ at the heart of our joyous celebration, and just as our Lord Jesus would do, let us all share the joy and happiness that we have with us, so that we do not selfishly keep whatever blessings have been given to us, and share them with those who have less or none. And if we are afraid that our joy will be less, then perhaps we should heed the wise words, “Shared joys are double joys.”
Therefore, let us all on this Gaudete Sunday, rejoice and exult in the presence of our God. And let us all find a renewed energy and commitment to be joyful, not just for ourselves, but for each and every one of us, and not for the goods of this world or for all the pleasures that they can offer us, but rather because we know that through Christ, we have been made whole and freed from all taints of sin. May God our Joy bless us all and strengthen us in our faith towards Him. Amen.