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Advent: December 17th

Third Sunday of Advent

Other Titles: Day 1 O Antiphons: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)


December 17, 2023 (Readings on USCCB website)



Third Sunday of Advent: O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord's Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.


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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.

Today is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, "Rejoice". Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.

December 17 marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church in these following Golden Nights travels through the centuries recalling the longing for the Redeemer. Today begins with O Wisdom (O Sapientia).

For more information on the O Antiphons, see

     Jesse Tree, Day 15 ~ Solomon
     Jesse Tree Overview

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.

Commentary on the Mass Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle B:
The First Reading is from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11. Isaiah's words of consolation and promise are addressed in the first place to the exiles, but they were fully and truly realized only when Christ the Messiah came. Christ applied the first two verse of this text to himself when he first preached in the synagogue of Nazareth (Lk 4:18-19). This morning, let us thank God from our hearts for the "good tidings" of our redemption and exaltation, brought to us by Christ the Son of God and our loving Brother.

The Second Reading is from the First Book of the Thessalonians 5:16-24. Living a truly Christian life is not a merely human activity. God has a part in it; in fact, God has the principal part to play in it. What St. Paul told the Thessalonians, he tells us too: "God is faithful." God will do his part, the greater part, of the work of our salvation. So it matters not how many opponents we have. It makes no difference how many machinations they invent to impede us on our journey. Our "God is faithful" and our God is with us, helping us every step of the way. Rejoice then, nay, exult in joy! Thank God from your heart for the gift of the true faith. Thank him for everything he sends in life. The rough, as well as the smooth, has a part in God's plan for making us worthy of sharing his kingdom.

The Gospel is from the John 1:6-8, 19-28. Last Sunday we had St. Mark's account of the Baptist's activity at the Jordan as he prepared the people for the public mission of Jesus. John was the last of the great line of prophets and he was the greatest of them all. It was his privilege to point out to his audience the Son of God in human nature, the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," and also to hear God's voice from heaven proclaiming Christ to be his "beloved Son." He was surely a man sent from God. Let us listen to the call of John the Baptist, and from our hearts repent of our sins. Let us prepare for Christmas, the anniversary of Christ's human appearance on earth, by cleaning ourselves of all sinful attaches, but making a firm resolution to follow the Lamb through life.
—Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.

O Wisdom
Divine Wisdom clothes itself in the nature of a man. It conceals itself in the weakness of a child. It chooses for itself infancy, poverty, obedience, subjection, obscurity. "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. . . . Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews, indeed, a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. . . . But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that He may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that He may confound the strong. And the base things of the world and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and the things that are not, that He might bring to naught the things that are" (I Cor. 1:19 ff.).

  • Come, O divine Wisdom, teach us the way of knowledge. We are unwise; we judge and speak according to the vain standards of the world, which is foolishness in the eyes of God.
  • Come, O divine Wisdom, give us the true knowledge and the taste for what is eternal and divine. Inspire us with a thirst for God's holy will, help us seek God's guidance and direction, enlighten us in the teachings of the holy gospel, make us submissive to Thy holy Church. Strengthen us in the forgetfulness of self, and help us to resign ourselves to a position of obscurity if that be Thy holy will. Detach our hearts from resurgent pride. Give us wisdom that we may understand that "but one thing is necessary" (Luke 10:42). "For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Matt 16:26.) The Holy Spirit would have us know that one degree of grace is worth more than all worldly possessions.

—Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

First O Antiphon: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
Symbols: All-Seeing Eye and the Lamp

Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

Traditional Antiphon: O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly, Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

Vespers Antiphon: O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.

The "all-seeing eye" represents the all-knowing and ever-present God. During the late Renaissance, the eye was pictured in a triangle with rays of light to represent the infinite holiness of the Trinity. The lamp is a symbol of wisdom taken from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25.

Recommended Reading: Proverbs 8:1-12

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.

For more on San Pietro in Vaticano, see:

For further information on the Station Churches, see The Stational Church.