Readings: Zep 3:14-18; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18
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 joy. 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 joy 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 in his mercy has removed judgment against us; in his compassion 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: “What must we do?” In other words, how can we become the best version of ourselves and so find true joy in life. John’s response is threefold. We must find ways of sharing goods with those who are deprived. We must engage in honest stewardship of common goods, and finally we must be content with what we possess. 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. There is no better preparation for Christmas than letting go and letting God transform us and prepare us to be the best version of ourselves as Christmas approaches. We will then discover the Lord in our midst in those we serve, and the Lord will fill us with true joy and peace. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Serving others and sharing with those who have nothing overflows into great joy. 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 open our hearts this Advent and so discover the best way to live. We will then find true joy and peace this Christmas. Joy is infectious. It overflows from us to those we serve.
©2018 John S. Mbinda