The 3rd Sunday of Advent-Cycle C-2009 Zephaniah 3:14-18a
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.
Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.
What questions would John the Baptist ask today? Could we construct the same kind of scene that we have in today’s Gospel? The crowds today ask John the Baptist, What should we do? John the Baptist could say in reply: Whoever has enough to eat should share with others. Those who have employment should help those who do not. Stop trying to amass money and instead share with the poor.
Perhaps John the Baptist would say to politicians—perhaps the most well-known class of public sinners today—stop lying, seek the good of others, seek peace and pursue it. Or he might say to the wealthy corporation executives: be satisfied with what is a just wage and don’t seek to become rich at the expense of others.
The good news that John the Baptist can preach to us is that Jesus Christ has come but most of us have not yet decided to follow Him seriously. If we truly desire happiness and a tranquil heart, we need to give our lives to the following of Jesus.
With the Prophet Zephaniah, we can rejoice in the Lord and rejoice in the words of this Prophet: 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.
God will rejoice over us when we turn our hearts to Him and try each day to be faithful to Him and to His teachings. God our Father knows that we are not perfect and that only with His grace can we respond to His love. Every day our Father invites us again to trust in Him and to seek His help so that we can grow in faithfulness and love.
With the Letter to the Philippians we can rejoice that God is near, always near. There are times when our hearts desire to be entirely with our God. It is at those times that we rejoice with incredible joy and gladness. This Sunday is a time when we are invited to experience the joy and gladness of our God’s love for us.
We rejoice because God love us. May God’s love for us draw from us a response of love for Him and for all people. May this time of waiting on the Lord, this time of Advent, allow God to transform us and give us ever greater desires to know Him, to serve Him and to rejoice in His love.