Third Sunday of Advent Year C
Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18
Rejoice in the Lord always, shout for joy, the Lord is near. The key to unlock the central message this Sunday is found in the second reading where Paul urges us to rejoice always in the Lord. In addition Paul tells us the reason for such happiness. He argues that “there is no need to worry” because the Lord is near. This Sunday we light the third candle of the Advent Wreath. Its desert rose color signifies rejoicing because we are now halfway towards the birth of our Savior. That is why this Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday which means, “Rejoice!” I know some of you might say, “Well, Father, I don’t feel all that joyful.” But we rejoice because the one who is to come is already with us. In the first reading, the prophet Zephaniah offers us the same message. “Shout for joy”; rejoice and exult because the Lord has removed judgment against us; he has driven our enemies away. Zephaniah like Paul assures us not to worry because the Lord our God is our hope and source of joy. In the Gospel from Luke, John the Baptist responds to a basic question his listeners are asking on how they are to prepare themselves to receive the gift of joy and peace in life. In John’s reply, the source of true joy and peace consists in a sharing of goods with those who are deprived; in honest stewardship of common goods; and in being content with what one possesses. This threefold demand is a fulfillment of Jesus’ call for more than just fairness, justice and equity. Jesus calls us to perfection just as our heavenly Father is perfect.
This is a message that many people need to hear today. You and I ask the same questions asked at the time of John the Baptist: “What must we do?” How do we find true joy? John the Baptist challenges us to seek ways of sharing the little God has given; ways of being honest and grateful for what God has given us. The main challenge in the readings of this Sunday touches all of us, but more particularly civil servants, political leaders and all guardians of law and order. In the final analysis, the way to avoid worrying, the way to true joy and peace is found in genuine sharing, honesty and a just sharing of common goods for all. There is no better preparation for Christmas than a response in faith to the call of Jesus to perfection and holiness of life. In so doing we discover the Lord in our midst and are filled with joy and peace. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The best way to rejoice in the Lord; the way to true joy and peace is found in genuine sharing with those who have nothing. 2) Genuine peace and joy is found in a just stewardship of common goods and being content with what God has given us. 3) Finally, we are called to walk along the way to perfection and holiness so that we will find true joy and peace this Christmas.
©2012 John S. Mbinda