Advent: December 11th
Third Sunday of Advent
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"Rejoice: the Lord is nigh." As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts over all that the birth of our Savior means for us. The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing nigh when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom. The oft-repeated Veni ("Come") of Advent is an echo not only of the prophets but also of the conclusion of the Apocalypse of St. John: "Come, Lord Jesus," the last words of the New Testament.
The Optional Memorial of St. Damasus I is superseded by the Third Sunday of Advent liturgy.
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Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, "Rejoice." The celebrants have an option to wear rose-colored vestments to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose-colored candle on our Advent wreath.
Jesse Tree, Day 15 ~ Jesse
Jesse Tree Overview
Mass Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year A: The First Reading is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 35:1-6, 10. Even if we took this prophecy of Isaiah as relating to the return from Babylon only, it would still be a source of consolation to us, and a reason for thanking our good God who, in this return of the Jews from Babylon, was preparing the way for the coming of his divine Son among us. The Exodus from Egypt in the 13th century, and the liberation from Babylon in the 6th, were big steps take by God on the road to our eternal liberation.
But as we know from our Lord’s own interpretation (Mt 11:5), these words of the prophet referred also to God’s greatest act of love and mercy—the Incarnation of his divine Son, which was to liberate all mankind from the slavery of sin and worldliness, and make men citizens of an everlasting homeland, heaven.
The Second Reading is taken from the Letter of James 5:7-10. “The coming of the Lord is at hand.” These word of St. James are true for all of us, in two senses. His first coming, which we shall be commemorating in ten days or so, is very near. The sincere Christian, who prepares, need have no fear of the second coming of Christ, as his judge—the coming of which St. James speaks today.
The Gospel is taken from Matthew 11:2-11. The Church brings John the Baptist, the man who prepared the people for Christ’s public mission, before our minds today, as an example that we should follow, even if only from afar. John prepared himself for the test of welcoming and introducing Christ to others, by a life of self-mortification and penance. He told the people that the first essential for getting Christ, and profiting by his coming, was that they should turn away from sin and give up any evil ways, which hitherto they had followed. He himself practiced what he preached and his preaching, therefore, bore fruit among many of his hearers. John is calling on us too today, to prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming this Christmas, by turning away from sin, and by the mortification of ourselves in many ways.
—Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.
Meditation: Christ Even Now on the Way to Bethlehem
Evidently, in the mind of holy Church, neither the prophecy concerning Bethlehem Ephrata nor its fulfillment in the day of Caesar Augustus is to be considered merely a glorious divine disposition and achievement. No, the prophecy of Micheus is still being verified every day, but predominantly during the annual Advent season; for the selfsame incarnate eternal Son of God who journeyed to Bethlehem to be born there physically, now to the end of time comes to human souls as to spiritual Bethlehems, there to be born anew, again and again.
But be sure to picture these merciful spiritual journeyings of Christ to the Bethlehem of souls as all too often sadly realistic spiritual repetitions of His first long journey over the rugged road from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Meditate long on the wanton and malicious opposition He encounters on His way to them from souls that leave their senses and heart and mind to be ruled by earthly vanities, and their whole selves to be willing victims of the sensual and selfish illusions and witcheries of the seven capital vices.
Can you still fail to see why Isaias and the Baptist compare the hardships of the way of the world's Messiah-King to souls with a rough, crooked, and almost impassable road up steep hills and down precipitous valleys and through dangerous mountain passes? Do you wonder that these prophets of His coming insist so strongly that merely sentimental longings and routine prayers, however multiplied, cannot prepare us worthily for the entrance He must expect and the welcome He craves?
Pray very honestly, therefore, that you may begin to see the practical reasons for the Church's crying out in the desert world, and even into your own interior soul and heart:
"Prepare ye the way of the Lord: Make straight in the wilderness His paths; Every valley shall be exalted; Every mountain and hill shall be made low; And the crooked shall be made straight; And the rough ways plain" (Is. 40:3, 4). Then shall you see the salvation of God!
—Excerpted from Our Way to the Father by Rev. Leo M. Krenz, S.J.
Third Sunday of Advent, Guadete Sunday,
Station with San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's in the Vatican):
The Station is at St. Peter's in the Vatican. After the two great basilicas chosen for the first and for the second Sunday in Advent, we come to St. Peter's in the Vatican, a church which shares with the Lateran the chief feasts of the year. It was selected as the station for today, because on this Sunday occurred the final scrutiny or examination of those candidates preparing for the Ordinations usually held on Ember Saturday in December. The original basilica was built by Constantine in 323 over the place where St. Peter was buried.
St. Peter's Basilica Information
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For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.