Homily Third Sunday of Advent Year C We have cause to rejoice

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Homily Third Sunday of Advent Year C


Reading 1: What is the cause or reason for rejoicing? The prophet Zephaniah gives two reasons why they should rejoice. One, God has removed his judgment against the people of Israel, namely their sinfulness and consequent punishment of exile. Their time of mourning and shame is to come to an end. Secondly, the Lord is in their midst. In spite of the fact that the people had abandoned the way of the Lord, God had not abandoned them.  As a result, they were no longer to fear or become discouraged by their situation in exile. The prophet also gives them a promise. The Lord will renew them in his love.


To shout with joy, to rejoice in the midst of struggles and difficulties, tragedies and major disappointments is not easy. In fact, it goes against real feelings and perceptions. But it can be our attitude, if we recognize what God has and is doing and desires to do in and for us. Joy can be in us, if we realize that God is with us, even when we don’t see or feel him.


Is it possible that we have forgotten the good news, namely, the promise that Jesus has made? He said that he would be with us always. There may be at times a lack of inner joy in our lives because we focus on externals and not internals. If we are living in relationship with God, sharing in his life, is he not present within us? Is that a reason for joy? That he has forgiven our many sins and taken away our shame and guilt, is this not a reason for rejoicing? Like the Israelites, we have to be reminded again and again of the deeds and promises of God for us. We are called not to deny our past life of sin, but to embrace the present grace of God.


Reading 2: Paul is also a prophet of the Lord. He reminds us that we are not just to rejoice but to rejoice in the Lord, not occasionally, but always. Our joy, he says, should be obvious to others, for we are aware that the Lord is near as far as his second coming. But more importantly he is in us and with us in his present coming.


If we are conscious of the Lord’s presence and love is there room for anxiety? Instead of being anxious over things we have no control over, Paul urges us to pray to the Lord in thanksgiving. In another words, offer our anxieties to the Lord. If we follow this pattern, then the peace that surpasses all understanding will be present in our hearts. In either case, rejoicing in the Lord or becoming overwhelmed by anxieties is a choice that I make.


Gospel: The people who came to John at the Jordan and were asking to be baptized, were instructed by John to show their repentance by their way of life. They were expecting the Messiah. They wanted to prepare for his coming. But they wanted to know what more should they do to prepare for him. John basically said to act in a truly loving way to others, sharing with them, treating them justly and rightly with respect.


John reminded them that the One who is to come will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. This is what Jesus said to the Apostles on the Day of the Ascension: “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit….You will receive power to witness to others.” This is what happened on the Day of Pentecost. The Spirit came upon them and tongues of fire hovered over them. Jesus was the Lord of their lives. They rejoiced in him and followed the lead of the Spirit in preaching God’s love and plan to others.


We can become so off focus during this season that we miss the point of it. We can become overwhelmed and caught up with the details of the pre-Christmas season that we missed the person, Jesus. Is there a joy or excitement in our hearts? Is the reason for that excitement and joy Jesus? The celebration of his birth? Like the people in today’s Gospel, we should be asking what more can we do to prepare for his coming? Will we cleanse our hearts of sin? Will we desire him to come more fully into our lives and be the Lord of them? Will we recognize him in one another? Will love or obligation be the reason we do for others?


Let the Lord be the reason of our joy as we invite him more fully into our lives.  Come, Lord Jesus, come! 

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