Gaudete Sunday, this third Sunday of Advent, is one in which the faithful rejoice, for the feast of the birth of the Lord is near. The penitential aspect of Advent gives way to the joy which springs from deep within our hearts, a joy which we cannot manufacture or feign. It does not emanate from the superficial pleasures of life for it is a Divine gift that brings the sense of fulfillment, peace and confidence that Emmanuel is with us.
It is from this gift of love that spring all other gifts—the practices, carried out by ordinary people in everyday settings, that bring light, relief and measures of happiness to the communities in which they find themselves. It is fitting on this day to recognise those who are the hands and feet, the arms and eyes and ears of the One who has bestowed upon us that wondrous gift of salvation. In serving others, they are serving the Risen Lord and amassing eternal joy for themselves in Heaven.
In the midst of the excitement that pervades the Christmas season, we can easily forget those who care for the elderly in their homes or in Homes for the Aged. They must deal, on an ongoing basis, with the heavy responsibility of ensuring that their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met. The demands on their time, their energy and often on their wallets are onerous yet faithful caregivers bring to the fore the virtues of patience and compassion. The difficulty of sustaining these virtues cannot be called into question, yet the very sacrifice which is offered up is more pleasing to God than a financial contribution that may be huge in earthly value but minuscule in genuine worth.