Today is the third Sunday of Advent, and it is also known as the Gaudete Sunday. The Latin word “Gaudete” means “Rejoice,” which is derived from the Latin opening words of the introit antiphon, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” This theme or call to rejoice, expresses the joy of anticipation as we approach the Christmas celebration and season. This is why Saint Paul in our second reading today, from his first Letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 16 said, “Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always.”

As we come closer to the birth of Christ, the Catholic Church calls on us to rejoice. But what are we rejoicing about? Why are we called to rejoice? We are called to rejoice today not just because the birth of Christ is near, but because of what He is coming to bring to us or bestow on us. Like we heard in the first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 61, verses 1 and 2, and verses 10 and 11, the Lord is coming to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, and to announce a year of favor and vindication for us from God.

So how can we rejoice better and prepare ourselves for the upcoming Christmas season? John the Baptist in our gospel reading today, from the holy Gospel according to John, chapter 1, verse 6 to 8, and from verse 19 to 28 teaches us how we can rejoice better and prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ Child this Christmas season. According to John the Baptist, we can rejoice better and prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ by testifying to the light, so that all might believe in Him. John the Baptist’s testimony was centered on fearlessly proclaiming the coming of Jesus, teaching about Jesus, living a holy and an austere life of Penance and mortification, and baptizing the Israelites as we heard in the gospel reading.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are now in the third week of Advent, and there is still time to prepare for the coming of Christ, so let us rejoice better and prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ by doing what Saint Paul urged us to do in the second reading, that is, by praying without ceasing; by giving thanks to God in all circumstances; by never quenching the Spirit in us; by never despising prophetic utterances; by testing everything; retaining what is good, and refraining from every kind of evil. Amen!