Today’s readings intensify the feeling of joyful anticipation. The great feast of Christmas is coming soon. The Prologue in John's gospel reflects on the Word-made-flesh as the light that shines in the darkness. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. Kathleen Rushton explains how the theological reflection on light found here, 'depends on our being aware of the natural phenomenon of light. We become aware of light, of the mystery of the universe where light surrounds us in constant, unobserved patterns...' It is Jesus who declares (8.12) "I am the light of the world." He reminds us that those walking in the light do not stumble...we participate in the Light. We spread the Light - little by little, like lighting a candle, which radiates light even in the furthest dark corners.'
K. Rushton. p.8 The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor - Hearing Justice in John's Gospel.
The First Reading is Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
This joyful reading proclaims the message of good news for all. This is a litany of divine promises. We hear it again proclaimed by Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:18).
‘I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God…’ exclaims the prophet. What a wonderful and wonder-filled gift this message invites us to reflect on.
Response to the Psalm Luke 1:46-50, 53-54
'My soul rejoices in my God.’
My Soul Rejoices from ‘Psalms in his presence.’ Audio HERE
You may recognize the words of the psalm today as part of Mary's hymn of praise - the Magnificat.
Take the opportunity to reflect in silence with this version of the Magnificat. HERE
Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday and the pink candle
As the liturgical calendar developed, one Sunday was set aside in each season – the fourth Sunday in Lent and the third Sunday in Advent – to focus on joy. The colour pink (or rose) was chosen as a reminder on these Sundays, that even in the midst of longing, penitence and fasting, the church never ceases to rejoice.
Pope Francis explains the difference between happiness and joy in this way:
"To be happy is good, yet joy is something more. It's another thing, something that does not depend on external motivations or on passing issues: it is more profound. It is a gift... to be happy at all moments, at all cost can at the end turn into superficiality and shallowness. This leaves us without Christian wisdom, which makes us dumb, naive, right? All is joy ... no. Joy is something else. It is a gift from the Lord."
You can view Pope Francis delivering this commentary HERE
About the four candles in the Advent wreath
Each candle has their own special significance as one is lit each Sunday leading to Christmas. Three of the candles are purple because violet is a liturgical colour that signifies a time of prayer, penance, and sacrifice.
The first purple candle symbolizes HOPE. It is sometimes called the “Prophecy Candle” in remembrance of the prophets, especially Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. It represents the expectation felt in anticipation of the coming Messiah.
The second purple candle represents LOVE. It is called the “Bethlehem Candle” as a reminder of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. It also brings to mind the newborn son of God lovingly asleep in a simple manager.
The third candle is pink and symbolizes JOY. It is called the “Shepherd’s Candle,” and rose is the liturgical colour for joy. The third Sunday of Advent reminds us of the joy that the world experienced at the birth of Jesus, as well as the joy we know in anticipation of the great feast to come.
We light the final purple candle to mark the fourth week of prayer and penance as we wait for the birth of our Saviour. This “Angel’s Candle,” symbolizes PEACE. It reminds us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards All People.”
Prayer during the Royal Commission December to January 2021.
To locate prayer suggestions for inclusion in the Prayer of the faithful for this week in Advent HERE