On this Third Sunday of Advent, Dec. 16, we rejoice! We’re more than halfway to Christmas! We call today Gaudete Sunday. The word gaudete means “rejoice,” and today’s readings are all about that.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
…he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.”
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
The reading from the prophet Zephaniah tells us that God will rejoice over us and “sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals.” What an image! That God is so happy about us being renewed that he sings about us.
The letter to the Philippians tells us that we should rejoice, and we should! Not just because Christmas is almost here, but because of the wonderful things God is doing in our lives every day and the opportunities we have to grow closer to God every day.
The Gospel story appears to be a divergence from all that rejoicing—people are asking John the Baptist how to be in a good relationship with God and are told that whatever we are supposed to be doing, should be done with integrity and honesty. They were excited because hearing about how to be close to God filled them with hope. They weren’t being told to do outrageous things—just to do normal things with love. They are warned about what will happen if they don’t do what they are supposed to, too, but that doesn’t upset them—they are joyful. God never asks the impossible of us, and he sends us lots of help (Jesus and the Holy Spirit) to do what is right.
And that’s really good news.
Break Open the Word with Your Family
How excited are you about Christmas coming? What are you most looking forward to?
Have you ever felt so happy that it made you sing? Did you ever think of God being so happy about you that he would sing? Did you ever think that God would sing at all?
With all the hubbub of getting ready—and it’s crunch time now—it can be tricky to find time for rejoicing. If you’re having trouble with finding joy, consider Paul’s words: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” How can his words help you to find joy?
Have cake today or some special dessert or treat—it’s Gaudete Sunday!
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”