This Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, will seem a little different. When you come to mass, you will note that the priest is wearing a rose colored vestment, rather than violet. The Advent Candle is also rose. What is going on?

What is “going on” is that we are drawing nearer to the celebration of Jesus  … “first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming…” ( The symbols of this third Sunday of Advent help us to understand the connection between Christmas and Easter.  For us, these are not separate events but part of the continuum of our faith journeys. Indeed, this third Sunday of Advent has a special name; it is called Gaudete Sunday. This is the day to begin rejoicing because we are half way to Christmas – the celebration of complete Love.

So what are we doing, as families of faith, to make our joy become love? This is a true challenge in our culture, where we a constantly met with the message that showing our “love” means buying – sometimes large, expensive items – to make our family and friends “happy”. But we know from our faith that true happiness comes only from our connection with God.

The readings this Sunday make that abundantly clear.

The first reading begins with this reminder:

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem! (Zephaniah 3: 14-)

If that was not enough to get our focus on the true source of our happiness, look at the second reading:

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice! (Philippians 4:4-)

Finally, Luke tells us quite clearly

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-)

As parents, we are accustomed to following Luke’s advice. We often give to or sacrifice for our children.  While we may not be sacrificing our “cloaks” we do sacrifice many things for our family. But more importantly, we sacrifice “of ourselves”. Not just our time, or talents or even treasures but the very essence of our being. We give all of who we are to show them what life in Christ means. This brings us to the full meaning of Christmas. Rejoice!!