THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)
The third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday”, meaning “rejoicing Sunday”. We light a pink candle known as “the shepherds’ candle”, signifying our joy in welcoming the baby Jesus. We rejoice because our salvation is already at hand and God himself is at hand.
The prophet Zephaniah calls the people of Jerusalem to rejoice because their enemies have been cast out; their sins have been forgiven and the Lord lives in their midst and will never leave them. They do not have fear any evil and God will not let their hands grow weak. St. Paul invites us along with the Philippians to rejoice for the Lord is very near. They do not have to worry because they can take all their concerns to God in prayer. In the Gospel we continue to hear about John the Baptist and his preaching. John instructs what we need to do if we want to experience the joy of Christmas and rejoice in the Lord always.
(1). To be genuinely generous towards the others.
When ordinary people asked John the Baptist what they should do, John said to them: “If anyone has two tunics, he has to share with the one who has none, he has to do the same with the food.” We are called to share with the others not out of abundance of wealth but it has to be sacrificial like the old woman in the Gospel who dropped two silver coins in temple treasury. She gave everything she had and it was noticed by Jesus because it was a sacrificial giving. St. Teresa of Kolkata says: “Give until it hurts you.” If we want to experience the joy of Christmas, then, we need to share our material things, our time and talents with others.
(2). To be sincere and truthful in our duties and responsibilities.
After the ordinary people, the tax collectors asked John the Baptist what they should do and John said to them: “Collect no more than is appointed you.” The tax collectors represented the Roman government. Using their authority, they collected more taxes and kept some for themselves and cheated the people. As a result the ordinary people hated them. So now John is asking them to be sincere and truthful in their profession. If we want to experience the joy in our lives, then, we need to be sincere and truthful in our tasks, no matter what the circumstances be.
(3). To be content and satisfied with what we have.
After the tax collectors, the soldiers asked John the Baptist what they should do and John said to them: “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation and be content with your wages.” It was common for the Roman soldiers to allow illegal things to go on for a bribe. If a man did not pay a bribe, he was often falsely accused by the soldiers. The main reason for this was the soldiers were not happy and content with what wages they received. So, John told them to be content with what they received. We always compare ourselves with the others and become dissatisfied with what we have. If we want to experience the joy, John tells us to be happy with what God has blessed us with.
When we are genuinely generous towards others, when we are sincere and truthful in our duties and responsibilities and when we are content with what we have, then, we will surely experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit, Joy, in our lives. This same joy was experienced by Our Blessed Mother and Joseph at the birth of Jesus; this same joy was experienced by the shepherds when they heard from the angels the birth of Jesus; the same joy was experienced by the Magi when they saw the baby Jesus in the manger. Let us earnestly pray that we too may experience the same joy in our lives and rejoice in the Lord always.