Today is the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudete Sunday in the western churches. The day marks a mid-point in the season and is, as such, a day of rejoicing. The name itself comes from the first words traditionally sung as the ministers and choir entered the church on this day ‘Gaudete in Domino semper’ or ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’.
Advent is a sombre season and one in which penitence is called for. The liturgical colour for Advent is purple. Gaudete Sunday, however, is a time of rejoicing and anticipation for the coming of the Lord. Today the colour is rose, a colour not to be used at other times during this season (this is why one of the candles in an Advent wreath is pink rather than purple).
So today the invitation changes: today, we do not simply adore ‘The Lord who is to come’ but we also rejoice and hail ‘The Lord who is now nigh and close at hand.’