Third Sunday of Advent (Cycle C)
The Preaching of Saint John the Baptist - by BACCHIACCA - from Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest . . .
Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18
The Lord will exult you, over you, He will renew you by His love. Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! sing joyfully,
O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgment against you, He has turned
away your enemies; The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said
to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty Savior; He will rejoice over
you with gladness, and renew you in His love. He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.
Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again. Rejoice! Everyone should see how unselfish you are. The Lord Himself is
near. Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then
God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.
Gospel Luke 3:10-18
The crowds asked John, "What ought we to do?" In reply he said, "Let the man with two coats give to
him who has none. The man who has food should do the same".
Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what are we to do?"He answered
them, "Exact nothing over and above your fixed amount".
Soldiers likewise asked Him, "What about us?" He told them, "Do not bully anyone. Denounce no one
falsely. Be content with your pay".
The people were full of anticipation, wondering in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered
them all by saying: "I am baptizing you in water, but there is One to come Who is mightier than I. I am not fit to loosen His
sandal strap. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. His winnowing-fan is in His hand to clear His threshing floor and
gather the wheat into His granary, but the chaff He will burn in unquenchable fire". Using exhortations of this sort, he preached
the good news to the people.
Third Sunday of Advent (Cycle C)
by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.
Too many of us are living in a rut. Day in and day out it's the
same old routine -- up in the morning, gobble down breakfast and get to work.
Work, work, work . . . come home at night, get through dinner, do some more work, go to bed. And the next day repeat the same old cycle.
On weekends we'll insert a bit of forced fun, and then Monday we'll get back on the same old treadmill.
Too many of us have sold life short. We refuse to hope for anything much, refuse to
believe in anybody, refuse to expect very much of anything at all out of life. That way, you see, we'll
never get hurt. In order to protect ourselves from getting hurt we never have
very many expectations of anybody or of anything. We've sold out on life. Joy? Happiness?
They're dead myths. So is the hope for Heaven.
Too many of us have focused on all of the bad things in life. As a consequence we
fail to see the good things in life. Poverty,
greed, corruption, people taking advantage of the system, and all that's
wrong in people, have so captured our attention that our
vision of life is filled with cynicism. We can't see much in
life that is cause for rejoicing.
Some people explain it all away by saying that God wants us to live life in
suffering and misery, that He is looking for
human suffering, that His
anger is appeased by human suffering. Some tell
us that we simply have to endure life and to accept life's miseries so that God
will reward us in Heaven. These people assume that God
is under obligation to make things better if we live in enough misery.
Others live life with the unspoken conviction that God has made a
terrible mistake when He created us with free will,
thereby allowing evil human choices, thereby creating a world in which
evil is present. They're angry at God for bringing
us pain, loss and suffering.
God, on the other hand, thinks that the world is good, that
human nature is basically good, so good in fact
that it's worth dying for. God thought it was
worth His while to send His only-begotten Son to us, to enter into our world,
and bring us the light and vision in which to find
His presence and His love and His kingdom. I only
hope that those who are so anxious to get out of this world don't pass by God on His
way coming into our world! They might discover they're headed toward the wrong
Jesus lives among us and is present here among us in His Church, a Church He
gave us for our sanctification. Jesus is here present among us in
His Sacraments, offering Himself to us and tenderly giving
Himself to us in Holy Communion. Why? In order to help
us get out of our ruts, in order to help us find happiness,
joy and love in life, in this life as well as in the next.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,
" we pray. Jesus is telling us that He
wants us to overcome our selfishness, our self-centeredness, our attitudes
that require that we get something out of it for our selves whenever we engage in any thing or engage our selves with anyone else.
The "what's in it for me?" attitude brings only more
misery, more unhappiness, and more
abuse of others.
Which is what John the Baptist is trying to tell us.
You and I have all seen people who really get a kick out of life. They are so enthusiastic, so filled with
spirit and energy, so filled with love and
care and concern for others, that nothing drags them down into
depression and misery. We cannot help but be attracted by such people. They
have kicked the habit of sin, the habit of self-centered
concern about what's in it for them, that they refuse to be swallowed up by routine living that is nothing but
drudgery. The cares and concerns and life's
immense problems and agonies are incapable to hurting
them and knocking them down. They are filled with HOPE,
filled with PURPOSE, and filled with the Spirit of Christ. They are
filled with JOY.
The Church asks us right here and now to make a commitment to try and be one of those people.
For the Lord is near, very near.
Joy, someone once wrote, is the infallible mark
of a Christian. He was Leon Bloy, a great French philosopher and writer.
There have hardly been fewer times in human history when there has been a greater need for real
Christians, Christians who are filled with joy.
The forces of darkness and gloom, the principalities
and powers of this world on high, the bitterly cold atmosphere of a loveless society
that sees others as only useful, seem to us perhaps to be overwhelming. Yet is was on a silent night -- in the midst of its
deepest darkness with the forces of evil and despair
fully in command -- that the angels' exultant and joyful cry cracked through
the dark gloom . . . and light shone in the
You and I bear within our hearts the power to make that history repeat itself again and again at
ever higher levels in the cycles of our lives. You and I bear within our hearts the cry of
Christ in His Church as She announces to the
world: "Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again I say, rejoice!"
It remains for you and me to enter into the hearts of those around us who live in
dreary and depressing darkness of soul in order
to give them cause to rejoice. You and I can announce to those living in a rut
that they can climb out. You and I can tell those who have sold life short that they should invest in it . . . to go to those who live
gripped by a vision that everything's wrong in the world and give them a different vision, to see reality
in a different light, to announce to those who live in darkness that they can see our world in a
great light, the light of Christ. We can go to those who have sold
out on everything so as to have no expectations and show them that, in Christ, they can live in great
If the crib, if Christmas trees filled with light, and if the warm
glow of Christmas mean anything at all, they mean that you and I have to be, each one of us individually,
the star of Bethlehem, that leads us from afar to the manger, into a place wherein we can see life in a whole new light.
"Rejoice in the Lord always! I say it again, Rejoice! Everyone should see how
unselfish you are. The Lord Himself is near. Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and
in petitions full of gratitude. Then God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds,
in Christ Jesus."