‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’ (Lk.1:46-47)
On Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of the Advent Season, the readings of the Mass are filled with a sense of joy – indeed, ‘Guadete’ means ‘rejoice’ and so this is very much the theme of this day and gives the day it’s name.
Isaiah rejoices because ‘God is the joy of my soul’. And in the ever-beautiful ‘Magnificat’, the great canticle of Mary, presented to us today as the Responsorial Psalm, the Blessed Virgin sings Her own song of joy, proclaiming the greatness of the Lord Who has so greatly favoured Her – ‘My spirit rejoices in God, My Saviour’. Then, the luminous words of St Paul remind us to ‘rejoice always, pray without ceasing’. Finally, in the Gospel of St John, we are reminded of the reason for our joy; John the Baptist, that ‘voice crying in the wilderness’, sings a song of the greatest joy – the Messiah, the Christ of God, is coming.
This sense of joyful expectation is reflected, too, in the Diary of St Faustina. In the fifth notebook, she writes –
“My soul was languishing with joy.. my joy throughout the whole Christmas Season was immense, because my soul was unceasingly united with the Lord..” (Diary, entry #1443)
And this, surely, is the cause of our own joy; the anticipation of union with the Lord Who comes to us as a little Child, born of the Virgin in a stable at Bethlehem. That same Child will grow and one day will offer His life for us upon the Cross, His mercy opened wide for all humanity.
And ever since then, He comes to us in another way also – in Holy Communion.
Nothing could be the cause of greater joy, for nothing compares to the joy of being united to the Lord in this Sacrament of His abiding presence. This same Lord of Whom the Prophets, the Apostles, the Saints and the Mother of God speak, He comes to us in every single Holy Communion.
As we move into the second part of Advent and closer now to Christmas itself, let us ask the Mother of God to make ready our hearts to worthily receive Her Divine Son; to prepare these poor hearts as She did the manger in Bethlehem; and to lay Him there for us, that we, too, may be united to Him – now, and in eternity.