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.
Be not discouraged! The Prophet Zephaniah lived some 600 years before Jesus Christ and was upset about the way people related to God in Jerusalem. While this prophet speaks of woe and destruction, he also speaks of the joy of serving God and the joy when all the people are faithful. That is what we are hearing today in the first reading. We should not be discouraged when things are rough because if we are faithful to God, then all will be well in the long run. This is not a message which tells us that all will be well no matter what we do. It is clear that all can be well if we are faithful to God.
The Letter to the Philippians has the same message today: Make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The Letter to the Philippians again tells us that we will have peace if we make our ways know to God and ask Him to help us. Again, there is no promise that everything will be wonderful, but a promise that peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Luke’s Gospel today tells us that John the Baptist preached the good news to the people. What was the good news? The good news is that we must repent: share what you have with others, be honest and satisfied with what is just.
Today, in much of modern culture, we want only happiness for ourselves and pleasure. All of today readings tell us that seeking our own happiness and pleasure will ultimately get us nowhere. We must seek God’s will and the good of others if we want to be happy forever. The good news, the Gospel, is not an easy message for our time. On the other hand, it is the only recipe for true happiness. All the money of the world cannot make us happy. All the physical pleasures of the world cannot give us peace. All of the power of the world cannot make us rejoice. Only living with God daily is capable of that. We should never be fooled.
Does that mean that those who follow Jesus Christ are sad and deprived in this world because they know that they will rejoice in the world to come? Not at all. Doing God’s will here and now makes wonderfully happy people, even if there is adversity and challenge in our lives.
So on this Third Sunday of Advent, we sing about joy and gladness and rejoicing! Let us delight in the Lord and come to the deepest joys possible by doing His will.