This Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday. The term Gaudete refers to the first word of the Entrance Antiphon, "Rejoice." Rose vestments are worn to emphasize our joy that Christmas is near, and we also light the rose candle on our Advent wreath.
The first reading and gospel reading at Mass fit so beautifully together.
The first reading is from Isaiah Chapter 35. We read in verses 5 and 6: "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing."
In St. Matthew's gospel from Chapter 11, the disciples of John the Baptist are questioning Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?"
Jesus replies by reference to Isaiah 35:5-6: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus' answer may seem cryptic to us. Why doesn't He just answer the question yes or no?
We have to remember that Matthew was writing to a primarily Jewish audience who would have been very familiar with Isaiah and the Old Testament scriptures.
By referring them back to Isaiah 35, which is predicting Israel's deliverance from foreigners, Jesus is very specifically answering them.
By referring to the outward healings that Jesus is performing, He is fulfilling the prophecy that the Messiah would restore and heal. And all of these outward physical healings are pointing to the internal deliverance and healing from sin that Jesus can perform any time for everyone of us.
Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, we all are healed from the sins that weigh us down. (Download PDF: How to make a good confession)
We have the opportunity for confession every Saturday from 4:30-5:15 p.m. and also this Tuesday, December 14, at 7 p.m. in the new church. There will be several priests available on this night. Confessions also can be made by appointment. Call the office at (727) 821-7989.
Daily confessions are heard downtown at St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church at 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The church is at 515 Fourth Street South in St. Petersburg. Daily confessions also are heard at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle following the 11 a.m. Mass.
Photo: Pope Benedict XVI in rose vestments.
Julie Musselman has been a parishioner at St. Raphael’s since 1994. She and her husband Bob have six children. Julie is the Florida-Georgia Regional Manager for Lighthouse Catholic Media, a not-for-profit organization that distributes inspiring books and talks on CD by dynamic Catholic speakers. She enjoys writing about the Catholic Church, the liturgical year, the saints and the reality of trying to live the Catholic Faith. Visit her blogs Lighthouse Catholic Media and A Catholic Home Journal.