Sunday, 13 December 2015 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

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.

Sunday, 13 December 2015 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Luke 3 : 10-18

At that time, the people asked John the Baptist, “What are we to do?” And John answered, “If you have two coats, give one to the person who has none; and if you have food, do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptised, and asked him, “Master, what must we do?” John said to them, “Collect no more than your fixed rate.”

People serving as soldiers asked John, “What about us? What are we to do?” And he answered, “Do not take anything by force, or threaten the people by denouncing them falsely. Be content with your pay.”

The people were wondering about John’s identity, “Could he be the Messiah?” Then John answered them, “I baptise you with water; but the One Who is coming will do much more : He will baptise you with Holy Spirit and fire. As for me, I am not worthy to untie His sandal. He comes with a winnowing fan to clear His threshing floor and gather the grain into his barn. But the chaff He will burn with fire that never goes out.”

With these words and many other words John announced the Good News to the people.

Sunday, 13 December 2015 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Philippians 4 : 4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again : rejoice and may everyone experience your gentle and understanding heart. The Lord is near : do not be anxious about anything. In everything resort to prayer and supplication together with thanksgiving and bring your requests before God.

Then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Sunday, 13 December 2015 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Isaiah 12 : 2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

He is the God of my salvation; in Him I trust and am not afraid, YHVH is my strength : Him I will praise, the One who saved me. You will draw water with joy from the very fountain of salvation.

Praise to the Lord, break into songs of joy for Him, proclaim His marvellous deeds among the nations and exalt His Name.

Sing to the Lord : wonders He has done. Let these be known all over the earth. Sing for joy, o people of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Sunday, 13 December 2015 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Zephaniah 3 : 14-18a

Cry out with joy, o daughter of Zion; rejoice, o people of Israel! Sing joyfully with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! YHVH has lifted your sentence and has driven your enemies away. YHVH, the King of Israel is with you; do not fear any misfortune.

On that day they will say to Jerusalem : Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for YHVH your God is within you, YHVH, saving Warrior. He will jump for joy on seeing you, for He has revived His love. For you He will cry out with joy, as you do in the days of the Feast. I will drive away the evil I warned you about.

(Usus Antiquior) Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (I Classis) – Sunday, 15 March 2015 : Gradual and Tract

Liturgical Colour : Violet

Gradual

Psalm 121 : 1, 7

Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi : in domum Domini ibimus.

Response : Fiat pax in virtute Tua : et abundantia in turribus Tuis.


English translation

I rejoiced at the things that were said to me : “We shall go into the house of the Lord.”

Response : Let peace be in Your strength, and abundance in Your towers.


Tract

Psalm 124 : 1-2

Qui confidunt in Domino, sicut mons Sion : non commovebitur in aeternum, qui habitat in Jerusalem.

Response : Montes in circuitu ejus et Dominus in circuitu populi sui, ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.


English translation

Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion. He shall not be moved forever, those who dwells in Jerusalem.

Response : Mountains are round about it, so that the Lord is also round about His people, from henceforth, now and forever.

Sunday, 14 December 2014 : Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Gaudete Sunday)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent, or also known as the Gaudete Sunday, from the word ‘Gaudete’ which means ‘Joy’, that is the first word in the Introit or the opening propers of the Mass of this Sunday. The four Sundays of Advent, all of them celebrate a certain aspect of our faith, Hope for the first Sunday, Peace for the second, Joy for the third, which is this Sunday, and Love for the fourth and last Sunday.

And that is why for today, because we celebrate the aspect of Joy, it seems like an exception to the practice of the season of Advent, as today, the organs and musical instruments normally refrained from use during this season, is played again, just for today, and the more festive celebration of this day’s event also highlight this celebration of the Joy of Advent, as is with the vestments for today’s Holy Mass, which is rose instead of the usual purple or violet.

What is this Joy of Advent that we celebrate this Sunday? It is the same as the Joy which we celebrate at Christmas, the one Joy and true Joy of the world, not false joy and happiness which things of this world can provide us, but the one true Joy in Jesus Christ, the true source of all happiness and joy for us mankind. And He is the Joy in Christmas and all of our celebrations, for the Joy of Advent is indeed about the happy expectation of the coming of the Joy of Christ into this world, both the one that has already passed, and the one which will be in the future.

We should be a joyful people, brothers and sisters in Christ, and not a people who are enshrouded in fear and gloom. But it is important that all of us understand what kind of joy it is that we should have. Is it the joy we have in the Lord, the happiness for the grace of life which has given given to us, for His providence and loving actions which provide us with all that we need? Is it the happiness that comes from all those whom by the grace of God we have met in our lives?

Or is it the joy that we have for things of this world, such as money, wealth and possessions, and such as power, fame, influence and praise from others, and such as sexual pleasures of the flesh, the pleasure of greed and love for falsehoods in the world? Clearly this joy we celebrate today is not of the latter kind but the earlier one. Nevertheless, and quite unfortunately, for many of us if not most, the kind of joy and happiness we seek is in the latter form.

But all those happiness and joy that had been mentioned latter, were merely temporary, and they will not last. For those joys are the joys of the world, tied to worldly things that do not last and will perish in time. For example, what is our wealth and possession to us? Should we be excessively joyful at having them and splurge on them? Should we depend on them so much so as to the point of idolatry of wealth? Remember that, all the things of this world will perish, and a single disaster or accident is all that is needed to destroy all these ‘joys’ we have in the world.

The problem for many of us is the attachment we have for those things, and our inability to detach from them appropriately. It does not mean that those things, namely wealth, money, possession, power, authority and others are bad or evil, but that without true understanding of their purpose, and without spiritual maturity in Faith, and also without restraint, we will only grow more and more attached to them.

And much of the evils and darkness in this world can be attributed to those worldly things, when they were inappropriately used. For example, how many people have died in the past century alone when nations went to war against other nations, for the purpose of fame, for the purpose of wealth and resources, and for the purpose of human pride and arrogance, thinking even that they lord it all over the life and death and the fate of many.

And if we think about it, how many peoples and families had been ruined and broken up, because they have no true joy and love in them? Some were divided against the other because of money and possessions, some were divided because of inability to restrain themselves from fornication of the flesh and therefore adultery and unfaithfulness to one another. This is what happens when we depend on and seek the joy of the world.

Instead, we should look beyond them, and look at the true joy of all, that is Christ, who brought us hope, life and happiness, by providing us with the one and only way out from the predicaments of sin and death. It is the goal of this Advent season, that we prepare for the coming of our true joy, by thoroughly preparing ourselves heart, mind and soul for the Lord.

As we see from the readings today, we know that as the prophet Isaiah had spoken in the past, he prophesied of the coming of the great Messiah, who, endowed with the Spirit, would bring about happiness and joy to the nations, by the healing of the sick and empowerment of the weak, the liberation of all those who have been beset and disturbed by demons, and liberation of all from the chains of sin.

In Christ we will find our peace, the eternal and everlasting peace, and we will find hope, for in Christ lies the only hope for us, the hope for everlasting happiness and joy, and yes, this is the joy that we focus on today, for everything comes out of His love, the eternal love which He has for us all, so much so that He gave up everything He had, the power and majesty He had, to be one of us, and to lower Himself and assuming the role of a servant and slave, in order to free us from the tyranny and bonds of sin.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist, the faithful servant and messenger of God, the second coming of Elijah, also professed Christ and proclaimed that he came in order to prepare the way for the Lord, and to make straight His ways, so that through his works and actions, he might bring about God’s peace, hope, joy and love into this world and that they may come to be shared by more and more people, who because of John, would also believe in Jesus.

Therefore, this Advent is indeed the time and opportunity for us to prepare. To prepare ourselves not just for the celebrations of Christmas, and not indeed for us to go and buy all the Christmas decorations and gifts. We have to look into the reason of our Christmas joy and celebrations. Are we celebrating it for ourselves, and to boost our own ego? Are we celebrating it to enjoy the glamours of this world and to enjoy in gluttony, greed and sloth all the secular joy and celebrations of the world?

Or are we indeed celebrating the true joy of Christmas, that is Christ? This is what we need to ponder at this time, and then, not just to remain at that, but we have to be proactive in our lives, to follow the footsteps of the prophet Elijah and John the Baptist, to prepare for the coming of our Lord. For just as they prepared for the Lord’s first coming into the world, we now have been given the responsibility to prepare for the second coming which He had promised us and which we believe sincerely in our hearts through faith.

We ought to take our faith seriously from now on. We can no longer be lukewarm in our faith, but instead, we who have been called and saved through baptism and by our faith in Jesus, should take up our crosses given to us, the responsibility of caring for those who are still lost in the darkness. The joy of Christmas, and thus the joy of this season of Advent, that is Christ, cannot be left alone in us, but must be shared. True joy comes with sharing, and what is better than to share the great joy we have in Christ within us?

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John of the Cross, a great saint and a renowned figure of the Counter Reformation against the heresies of the so called Protestant ‘reformation’. He was part of the Carmelite religious order, and together with St. Teresa of Avila reformed his order and created numerous writings and pieces of work which still inspire many in the faith even today and beyond.

St. John of the Cross worked with St. Teresa of Avila to return the friars to their more ancient and faithful traditions, rejecting relaxations and worldliness and a return to the purer and more devoted form of life as espoused by the founders of the religious order. He made the Carmelite friars to devote much more of their time in prayer and in silence, and whatever free time they have, they ought to preach and help the people who lived in places around them and their monasteries.

Through his reforms and his writings, St. John of the Cross had strengthened the Church and the faithful, and by his works he also brought countless souls back from sin into the light of Christ. His tireless works and devotions for the Lord and for His people are truly examples that all of us can apply in our own lives. It is the same actions that we should live our faith with, and so by our hands, may it be that we are able to prepare for the coming of Christ.

Remember, brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord who will come again, shall reward all of His servants whom He finds to be faithful and vigilant, and if we prepare ourselves well, and do as He had asked us to do, surely we will not be disappointed. Let us therefore share the joy of this Advent season, the expectation of the joy of Christmas, and thus the Joy which we have in Jesus Christ, our Lord and God. God bless us all and keep us all in His grace. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/12/sunday-14-december-2014-third-sunday-of-advent-gaudete-sunday-memorial-of-st-john-of-the-cross-priest-and-doctor-of-the-church-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/12/sunday-14-december-2014-third-sunday-of-advent-gaudete-sunday-memorial-of-st-john-of-the-cross-priest-and-doctor-of-the-church-psalm/

 

Second Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/12/sunday-14-december-2014-third-sunday-of-advent-gaudete-sunday-memorial-of-st-john-of-the-cross-priest-and-doctor-of-the-church-second-reading/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/12/sunday-14-december-2014-third-sunday-of-advent-gaudete-sunday-memorial-of-st-john-of-the-cross-priest-and-doctor-of-the-church-gospel-reading/

 

Epistle (Usus Antiquior) :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/12/usus-antiquior-third-sunday-of-advent-gaudete-sunday-i-classis-sunday-14-december-2014-epistle/

 

Gospel (Usus Antiquior) :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/12/usus-antiquior-third-sunday-of-advent-gaudete-sunday-i-classis-sunday-14-december-2014-holy-gospel/