By Fr. Robert P. Boxie, III, Howard University, Catholic Chaplain
Gaudete Sunday, which means “rejoice” in Latin, borrows its title from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon for Mass for the 3rd Sunday of Advent. It provides the theme for this week and characterizes our celebration as we move closer to the birth of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the lighter “rose” color for the liturgical vestments and the third candle of the Advent wreath symbolize joy and indicate that the wait for our long-promised Savior has reached its halfway point.
The birth of a child always brings with it a profound joy that fills our hearts. Our imaginations easily project forward to the future and the hope that a new baby embodies for a family. Last month, I experienced such joy. The first couple that I had prepared for marriage and witnessed their wedding welcomed their first child—a healthy baby boy. I had been waiting patiently and prayerfully for this baby all year, as if he were my own. This announcement was particularly special because the couple’s prior attempts at growing their family sadly ended in miscarriages. And in a year marked by a pandemic that shows no signs of letting up and which has upended all of our lives, I craved some good news. I immediately texted the father, “[T]his is the joy and hope we all need in 2020.”
Or, so I thought. While relishing in the news of that birth, it struck me that another baby was coming too…at the end of December. If the birth of a newborn can bring such joy, how much more will the birth of the Messiah bring? His had been promised from the beginning of time, foretold by the prophets, and eagerly anticipated for centuries by the righteous of Israel. He too will bring joy and hope and freedom, especially to those who suffer among us. He is the light that destroys sin and death and overcomes the darkness that afflicts us. He won our redemption and salvation and gave us eternal life. His birth sets the world on fire and ushers in a peace that the world cannot give and incarnates the infinite love the Father has for each of us.
This truly is the Good News that we all need to this conclude the year 2020 and for every day thereafter. Nothing could ever take away the joy and hope that fills our hearts from the birth of the Son of God among us and what he accomplishes for us. Whatever hardships we may have endured, whatever losses we may have experienced, however different our lives have now become, we rejoice wholeheartedly in knowing that Jesus Christ is coming.