Guadete Sunday, rose vestments, and rose candle on the advent wreath. The word means rejoice, and rejoice because salvation is near. That salvation is the birth of Christ. Two prominent figures throughout Advent have been John the Baptist and Elijah. John has been preaching the message of repentance and making the way for the Lord, he also has denied being that Christ or Messiah. John is though compared to the prophet Elijah, but who is Elijah? Here is a summary:
Elijah was a prophet from the northern Kingdom of Israel in 9 BC, during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. King Ahab sought to bring further division between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judea. He also sought to create division from Temple worship, and promoted the worship of the Canaanite pagan god of Baal. Elijah is the prophet that fought against King Ahab’s policies, and His name means “YHWH is my God.” Elijah wished to bring his countrymen back to their God. The return of Elijah in the Old Testament points toward the coming of the Messiah. The mention of John as the return of Elijah then emphasizes the coming of the Messiah that is Jesus Christ, and there is the reason for rejoicing.
One thing about rejoicing is that on this Sunday the word rejoice is emphasized so much, it is not so much an emotion, but instead it becomes a command. That, in some way, is important as on a day of rejoicing not everyone who hears those words is in a joyful mood. Joy is an emotion, and emotions are not always of one’s own choosing. But then, does a despondent mood on this day of rejoicing take precedent over that implied command? I think not. The command demands that one think of that light of the world, and ponder what that birth means. It gives reason to examine that joy that is Christ, and simply meditate on Christian joy. It also gives the demand that one rejoices precisely by giving joy, and by being that light which is Christ. It furthers that preparation that John stressed through repentance, and repentance is casting off all that keeps one from God. Rejoicing then is replacing that darkness of sin with the light of Christ.