The 3rd Sunday of Advent – December. 12th 2021
Lectionary readings: Zeph. 3:14-18, Isa.12:2-6, Phil.4 :4-7, Lk 3:10-18
Theme: Rejoice, sing aloud for joy!
Today’s readings all speak of rejoicing, singing aloud and praising God. On this, Gaudete Sunday the Church call us forth in the words of Zephaniah who gives us the reason to rejoice, “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you…. you shall fear disaster no more.” (3:15). God has forgiven Israel and has set the nation free. They shall no longer fear; for God is in their midst. Israel had rejected God as their King in desiring an earthly king like the other nations. (1Sam10:19) They realized they had forgotten that the Lord alone is their King. Isaiah speaks of God not only as a King but also as a pardoning Judge and Savior, “I will trust and not be afraid for the Lord is my strength… he has become my salvation.” (Is.12:2). He continues with the following instruction, “Trust the Lord, give thanks to the Lord, call on his name…. shout aloud and sing for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is. 12:2-5). In the Gospel we read of John the Baptist crying out in the desert and preparing the way for the Lord.
His central theme was repentance and, in a sense, he marks the culmination of the prophets heralding the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God. John is a transitional figure linking the Old and New Testaments. He, being human, perhaps had a vision of a Messiah that may have varied so much that he had questions when he saw Jesus. (Mt. 11:2-3). John’s words were fiery, often of punishment and vengeance (Mt. 3:1-12). He may have taken offense when he learned that Jesus welcomed and ate with sinners. In contrast to John’s thinking: “Jesus, however, came as someone who reconciled, converted, healed and redeemed. These were actions quite different from those of John’s expectations.
This confused expectation helps us understand why John sought clarification of Jesus’ mission and identity” (Mueggenborg,14). When John’s disciples came to Jesus wondering if he is ‘the One to come,’ Jesus gave no answer. He just pointed to the works he had done and asked them to interpret for themselves. Jesus had healed the blind, deaf, lame and preached the Good News to the poor. This witness of God’s love and compassion is abundantly clear to a person of faith; to others, it appears only as chance or coincidence.
In Advent, as we prepare both personally and collectively for the coming of Jesus, uppermost in our minds is that God has faithfully kept the promise of sending to us a Savior. It is in this fidelity that we hope as we look forward to Jesus’ second coming. Not only did God promise forgiveness but a release from fear that holds us captive. Both Zachariah and Mary heard these reassuring words, ‘Fear not!’ During this time of a unfathomable world crisis that we are experiencing with climate change and the Covid pandemic, we indeed receive that same message of hope in God who is in our midst and to fear not.
We must do all we can to counter the impact that our lack of awareness, superiority and greed have caused. Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical, Laudate Si, “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good and making a new start…to embark on new paths to authentic freedom.”
For Reflection and Discussion: May in this Advent season, I find the wisdom and courage to both change what needs to change in my life style and to be a witness to others. Our commitment and actions will determine if we have a future to give our next generation. Bibliography: Mueggenborg, D., Come, Follow Me, (Gracewing, Herefordshire, U. K. 2016).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Rita Kammermayer, Canada, Bat Kol Alumna/Alumnus:2001