For this Third Sunday of Advent, I thought it might be useful to first reflect on the Advent season, its symbolism and what meaning it holds in our modern world. The word itself comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.”
Over time, Advent has evolved and, since the Middle Ages, has become synonymous with marking Christ’s first coming which we celebrate at Christmas. Today, we celebrate Advent over the four weeks leading up to Christmas each year.
The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for rejoice, and this Sunday we are invited to rejoice as we mark the special joy of this Christian season.
Among today’s readings, our Responsorial Psalm (72:1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17) is concerned with justice: ‘Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.’
The very nature of justice can be a very contested space in our world today, what is it to be just? What does it mean to have justice done, or seen to be done? Is it about getting what one deserves and if so, how does one define this?
While there is no easy answer – there are so many differing and valid viewpoints motivated by many factors including ethics, rationality, law, religion, equity and fairness – isn’t it perhaps ultimately as laid out in the Psalm?
The Psalm petitions God to endow His judgment on the king, so that the king may govern with justice; the people will know peace; the afflicted will be defended; and the children of the poor shall be saved.
The concern must be with the vulnerable, the defenceless, the weak and the helpless. And even more powerfully, in the context of justice, we can remind ourselves about what matters more than winning or being popular.
Advent season is a time for reflection, for hope, for the pursuit of peace and divine guidance and justice. This wonderful quote from Victor Hugo is perennial: “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” (Victor Hugo)