A Joyful Gaudete Sunday

Reflections on forthcoming Mass readings by Tom and April Hoopes.

Dec. 16 is the Third Sunday of Advent (Year A, Cycle II) — “Gaudete Sunday.” Pope Benedict will say Mass at a parish in the Diocese of Rome.


From “Pastor’s E-epistle” from Emmaus Parish in Lakeway, Texas:

“During this time of increasing darkness we pray for the coming of the Light of Christ into the world. The Advent wreath is a symbol to help us with that prayer.

“On the third Sunday of Advent, and during the week after, we light the pink/rose candle. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete (Be joyful) Sunday for the coming of Christ is near. Pink/Rose is the liturgical color that symbolizes that joy.

“Try to wear that color to Mass on that day. Let’s express our joy on Gaudete Sunday in unity with the Church. During the rest of Advent the liturgical color is purple — the color of preparation and reconciliation. If you have purple in your wardrobe you might consider wearing it more often in the Advent season as well.”

FamiliaUSA.net offers families “Next Sun-day Ideas.”


So far this month, we have re-commended popular movies that, while not religiously themed, are associated with Christmas and can help spiritually prepare families for the celebration of Christ’s birth. A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, for example, are about repentance.

For Gaudete Sunday, we have another recommendation appropriate to Advent. The Juggler of Notre Dame, newly available on DVD, is a classic fable of hope triumphing over despair on Christmas Eve.

A made-for-TV movie from the ’80s, this retelling (from Paulist Productions) is not exactly great filmmaking — but, for us, its virtues outweigh its shortcomings.


Isaiah 35:1-6, 10; Psalms 146:6-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

Epriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.

Our Take

The theme of this Sunday is joy, and the readings fit that theme well.

In the Gospel, Christ announces that the predictions from our first reading have come true in him: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

We sometimes think of these passages as referring to a time long ago, when Christ was on earth healing people — or to some time in the future, when Christ will come again and set things right.

We forget that all of these things are true, now, in our own lives. Not only are there plenty of physical healings in our day, but there are the far more important spiritual benefits to enjoy.

For example, we were once spiritually blind but have since received faith. In baptism we received the grace to walk in his ways. In confession we are cleansed like the lepers. In confirmation we are given the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which give us ears to hear God.

The source of today’s joy is neither what Christ did 2,000 years ago nor what he’ll do when he returns in glory. It’s the life we are able to lead right now.

The Hoopeses are

editorial directors of

Faith & Family magazine (faithandfamilymag.com).