Pope Francis celebrated the Holy Mass for the Third Sunday of Advent,which is usually called Gaudete Sunday at the basilica of St. John Lateran. The day is usually referred to by its Latin name, Gaudete Sunday, which means “Rejoice" as the birth of the Savior draws near.
During his homily, the Holy Father said that Gaudete Sunday is known as the “Sunday of joy,” and said that instead of fretting about “all they still haven’t” done to prepare for Christmas, people should “think of all the good things life has given you.”
Pope Francis said that Christian joy comes from prayer, and from giving thanks to God, and is a serene peace, which exists even in times of suffering.
He said it “hurts to see Christians with a bitter face, restless with bitterness because they are not at peace,” adding that “saints have the face of joy,” and noting that no one has ever seen a saint with “a sad face."
Pope Francis reflected on the day’s reading from the Gospel of Saint Luke, in which the people asked John the Baptist what they must do to prepare for the coming of the Savior.
“The Baptist’s response was immediate," he said, noting how John’s invitation to act justly and to look after those in need also extends to each of us today.
While John’s demands were a reflection of what the law already prescribed, “we, however, are prompted toward a more radical commitment," Francis said.
In the contest of a history filled with great abuse and violence, especially by those in power, “God knows that he will reign over his people, he would never leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of its leaders, and will free them from all anxiety," the Pope said.
“Today we are asked not to let our hands grow weak because of doubt, impatience or suffering," but to place our trust in Lord,He added.
Pope Francis before commencing the Holy Mass started by praying at entrance of the Basilica,after which he opened the Basilica’s Holy Door for the Jubilee of Mercy and was followed through by co-celebrants of the Mass and lay faithful
One of the intriguing fact about the Pope Francis’ opening of the Holy Door is that it marks the first time in history that Holy Doors will be open in each Dioceses.
On Gaudete Sunday, Cathedrals around the world will be joining the Holy Father to open Holy Doors. Cardinal James Harvey celebrated Mass and opened the Holy Door at basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
The “simple sign" of opening the Holy Door is itself an invitation to joy, Pope Francis said, because “it begins a time of the great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy."
The Jubilee is a time to rediscover the presence of God in the world as well as his fatherly tenderness, he said, explaining that God “doesn’t like rigidity. He’s a father, he’s tender."
The rite of the opening of the Holy Door is intended to symbolically illustrate the idea that the Church’s faithful are offered an “extraordinary path” toward salvation during the time of jubilee.
The doors are only opened during jubilee years so that pilgrims can enter through them in order to gain the plenary indulgence that is connected with the jubilee.
Pope Francis closed his homily by praying that everyone who passes through the Holy Door, the “Gate of Mercy," would understand and welcome “the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, who transforms and renews life."