Advent III: Heaven
Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the Third Sunday of Advent (Advent III) is that the Priest wears rose-colored vestments while celebrating mass. This is one of only two times in the whole liturgical year when this liturgical color is used--the other is the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Advent III is also known as 'Gaudete Sunday' due to the fact that the entrance chant begins with the words 'Gaudete in Domino semper' or 'Rejoice in the Lord always' (cf. Phil. 4.4-5). Advent III marks the midway point in this season of preparation and expectation both for Christmas and the Second Coming of Christ. Traditionally, we reflect on the third of the four final things: Heaven.
The readings for the day refer to the coming of God's kingdom on earth and, more precisely, what we must do to enable its arrival. The first reading (from the prophet Isaiah) is a rallying call for social justice, to free and uplift the poor and those who are downtrodden--something which is dramatically emphasized in the day's responsorial psalm--it is, of course, not a psalm but rather the Canticle of Mary from the Gospel of Luke. Meanwhile, the second reading (from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians) lays out the game-plan for how we must hold ourselves and our personal faith.
Music: Henry Purcell (1659-95)
Words: Philippians 4.4-6
Artists: Choir of St John's College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha