Third Sunday of Advent
Reading 1: Zep. 3:14-18a
Responsorial Psalm: Is. 12:2-3, 4, 5-6.
Reading 2: Phil. 4:4-7
Alleluia: Is. 61:1
Gospel: Lk. 3:10-18
The liturgical color that we wear today is in accordance with the readings we have just heard. This color invites us to joy to rejoice in the Lord no matter what. What color is this?
The first and second reading invite us to live in joy, but what is the definition of joy “The emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires” If we follow this definition to the letter, it is impossible for us to find full joy in our lives. All of us at some point have to face some trials, due to personal, family, work, spiritual or economic difficulties, you name it.
Then how can we find joy in the midst of physical, emotional or spiritual pain? Who can be happy? We all want to be happy but happiness or in this case Joy, does not depends on an external circumstance, I believe that joy is a state of the soul.
The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do? We need to ask this same question ourselves? I’m going to start with the don’ts.
- Don’t worry
Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew 6:25-34 “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.” Living in constant worries is like a rocking chair; it does not go anywhere but prevents us from good actions, we are frozen by fear.
- Don’t control others
Saint Paul in the letter to the Romans 16:17-18 tells us, “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.”
- Don’t hold grudges
Having resentment in our hearts is like drinking poison and hoping someone else will die. In the Letter to the Colossians 3:13 Saint Paul tells us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We have to put up with peoples mistakes, but they too have to keep up with us.
- Nobody has to play by our own rules
The world does not have its existence because all have to play by our rule book. Take and accept people as they are, but we need to point them to Christ and not to ourselves, to Christ law and not our own. In the Gospel of Mark 7: 6-7 we heard, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Get to know who is really for Christ and who is just playing a worldly song.
- Don’t compare yourself to others
Saint Augustine said that “wherever there is disproportion the eye gets offended” You know what that means? That when you see someone who is not good looking we tend to turn our eyes away. And when we see someone who is good looking, we see in our selves the things that we dislike about ourselves, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” 1 Timothy 4:12.
- Don’t be lonely
It is okay to be alone to do some type of work that requires your full attention and commitment. Just like when Jesus went alone to the mountain to pray. We all need silence, solitude, but is a different thing to be lonely even when we are surrounded by people.
Psalm 25:16-21 states, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins. If you think about it the more you want to do Gods will the more pain of rejection and loneliness you and I are going to encounter.
- Don’t seek materialism over anything else
Materialism cannot satisfy the heart and soul. If you knew that tomorrow was your last day on this earth, would you go to work? What would you do different, what really would make you happy? “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other You cannot serve God and wealth” Matthew 6:24.
- Don’t make time for bad things
Many times we become lazy to do what is right and so passionate to do what is wrong. We have a saying back home that goes like this. “Laziness: is considered as the mother, and supporter of all vices, and prevents the realization of human virtues and values. It creates addiction, because it never goes to less, it is always increasing if it is not corrected in time. When we stop chasing the wrong things we give the right things a chance to catch us. The best thing to do is to understand how to prioritize our life and do what matters.
- Don’t get stuck in your past
When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive – right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s Cross. “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.” Many people become the product of their pasts.
Jeremiah 31:13 says, “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” When we suffer and offer our sufferings for Christ consider it all joy. We can be happy even in the midst of our own limitations. The testing of our faith produces endurance. “Let endurance have its perfect result that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4.
Of course, there are different types of joy and happiness. Sin produces partial happiness but then emptiness. The joy that comes from God is the one we need to seek because it is a fruit of the Spirit, (Galatians 5:22).
What shall we do?
- Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none.
- Whoever has food should do likewise.
- Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.
- Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.
John the Baptist forgot about his needs, his desires, his life expectation and preached the life of Christ instead. He found great joy in that. He invites us to follow the same path.