Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday when we light the third candle, which is rose colored or has a pink band around it. Remembering that Advent has a twofold tone, the first is penitential, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” The second, is the joyful, hopeful anticipation of celebrating Christ’s birth. Gaudete is Latin for Rejoice, the first word of the entrance antiphon from the liturgy. In some parishes the priest may wear a rose colored or pink vestment rather than the seasonal purple chasuble. Here at Saint Anthony, we make use of what we have, rather than invest in something worn only once or twice a year. However, it is a respite from the penitential preparations and offers anticipatory Christmas joy.
In order to do that we, all of us are called to be patient. The New Testament reading from the letter of James urges his readers to be patient until the Lord comes and exhorts them: “Make your hearts firm, for the coming of the Lord is near at hand.”
Realistically, how patient are you? How patient am I? In our fast paced world where we can google just about anything and in mere seconds, hundreds, thousands of possible links are at our fingertips. Carefully going to those links we look for the information we are looking for. Determining the accuracy of the information that pops us is another matter. We expect results from those searches faster than we can blink our eyes, or our brains can process the reams of information on the screen in front of us.
How impatient do you get if there is more than one person in front of you in the check-out line at any brick and mortar store? How does commute traffic affect your mood, especially when the traffic is bumper-to-bumper and you just have to get some place quickly? What is it like to have to wait in any line, at the theater, the DMV, waiting to get served in a restaurant? We have become an increasingly impatient people who bristle when our needs are not immediately met.
We live in a world that is becoming more harried, more rushed, sometimes more rude unless we are willing to slow down, take a breath and give the other person a break, provided they aren’t doing something totally foolish like texting in their cars. On this Sunday, Guadete Sunday, let us take a step back and ask: What moves me to rejoice? What makes me feel glad? What is worth waiting for every day?
I hope that we can pray for the grace to be reasonably patient, first with ourselves, and second, with others. I hope that we can pray for the grace to be grateful for all the blessings we receive, hope for and are willing to pass onto others. I hope that we can take time each day before Christmas to take just a few minutes to listen to God speak to us in that still quiet voice and discover anew the blessing of being patient in an impatient world.
With patience we can see God’s action in others. We can hear God’s voice in the laughter of a child. We can experience God’s goodness in our relationships with others. We can rejoice as we sing God’s praises this day in the liturgy.
Father Larry Hendel