12 December 2021 – 3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C)

By Father Francis Anthony

Zephaniah 3:14-18
Isaiah 12
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18

Theme: Rejoice, the Lord is here

Dear friends,

I find it ironical that today’s liturgy and expodination and all that, it says ‘Rejoice’. Are we being told to live in a make-believe world? Are we people rooted in our situation and am I able to see the sufferings that are all around, and not only others, we ourselves?  And in this situation, the text comes – Rejoice.  

The rejoicing is because we are people of hope.  If we are not people of hope, the rejoicing is very external.  We know in this situation, we will be able to rise.  In this situation which is so negative, we would be able to face the consequences and to come out to breathe fresh air.

Yes, the Rejoicing Sunday is to make us to focus into the situation of life and be people of hope.  We can come out of this mess and it is so real for us today.  And if you want to rise up from this situation, yes, St Paul comes up in the 2nd reading says: I want you to be happy, but how am I to be able to be happy when I see members of my family suffering?  Yes, St Paul comes up and says that you pray that the peace of God be with you. Yes, we all want that peace of God but how am I to enjoy that peace?  Yes, we always look forward, we want good things, we want sunshine. But how am I to be in that situation?  

And the Gospel text in the first half of today’s Gospel – it is very interesting.  I am going to go through it:

First, the ordinary people who were listening to John the Baptist and John the Baptist was preaching repentance.  John the Baptist was preaching to change your heart and mind.  So the people came to him and asked him: What must we do?  That is living the faith.  Living the faith is not saying: I am going to say the prayers and I have finished.  I have burned the candles and I have a crib in my house.  What must we do?  Very, very straightforward question.  And it is the people who are asking and John gives a general answer to them and he says: If anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none.  

Yes, I am not stopping at the first half – he has got two tunics, share.  No – with the man who has none.  I have to go out and to find out where I am needed and respond to that concrete need.  It is not just saying I share, finished.  And the text here, St Luke is very, very sharp and catches that: must share with the man who has none.  So I must find out. That is my role.  We all say ‘Oh there’s a charity box in the church, I go and put money.  Then, Father, you take care.’

The second group of people come and they have pinpoint they are not general like the people here. It say the tax collectors who came for baptism.  They asked: What must we do?  And look at the answer, very pertinent to them, the other tax collectors.  And Luke writing it and John is saying to them: Exact no more than your rate.  So personal, it’s not a general ‘You just give’.  To them, he did not say ‘Share’.  You are a tax collector.  Don’t abuse your power to exact more money than you should.  So you live your life, your working life, to be in relationship with your spirituality.  

Then the third group comes up and it says: the soldiers.  They came and asked: What about us?  The question first is: What about us?  They have been hearing: you share with one who has none.  They have heard the tax collectors were told: you do not exhort money. So these soldiers: What about us then?  What must we do?  And all of us here, we must be: What about us?  I’m reading this text and what must I do?   It is not just saying: I give charity, finished.  And St Luke comes out very sharply: What about us? What must we do? and he says: No intimidation.  No extortion.  Yes, for you soldiers because you abuse your power.  In this situation, for you: No intimidation, no extortion.  Be content with your pain.  

So my dear friends, if w really want to rejoice and say the pink candle is burning, if we really want to say this is Rejoicing Sunday, let us be like the soldiers: What about us?  And put it personally: What about me?  What must I do?  And you respond to that question as I respond to that question myself in my situation.  And that is what we will call ‘Living Faith.’  And that is what will make me to rise up and to be a person of hope and to rejoice because in the first reading, we have: The Lord is with us.  

We are not people groping in the dark.  We go back to Zephaniah and he says: And the Lord is with us.  And with the strength that he is giving, let us rise up, knock off the negativity of our lives, be more positive and face the challenges. This is a hardship.  In this hardship, I am trying to be a person of hope, a person who brings joy to myself, and to share that joy with others.

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