- Zephaniah 3:14-18;
- Responsorial Psalm (Isaiah 12:2-6. R/ v. 6);
- Philippians 4:4-7
- Luke 3:10-18
Theme: WHEN THE LORD COMES, HE WILL BURN AWAY OUR SINS WITH THE FIRE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND WE WILL BE VERY HAPPY
1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. The word Advent means coming. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas, and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time. Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago, and continues to come every Christmas, we believe that he will come again at the end of time.
Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in Memory, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in Mystery, and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in Majesty. When Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, he did something very important; before he died, rose from the dead, and gave us the Holy Spirit; he gave us the Eucharist/Mass in memorial of him, that is, to make real, present and effective what he did two thousand years ago, so that he can continue to come to us every Christmas in Mystery, and so that he can come to us at the end of time in Majesty!
The word Christ-mas comes from the two words “Christ’s” and “Mass”. (Raas) The Mass is the Sacrament of Sacraments. The word Sacrament in Greek and in Latin means Mystery. Jesus Christ comes to us every Christ-mas in Mystery and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in Majesty! Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time.
The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by practicing charity and justice. But before we practice charity we have to practice justice. Justice is giving back to the poor what belongs to them, that is, paying them a just wage, etc. Charity or “sharity” is sharing what we have with the poor, the have-nots. Thus we read in the gospel today:
“When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’ (Lk 3:10-14)
More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when the Lord comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of his Holy Spirit, that is, the fire of his love! God the Father is love, God the Son is love, and God the Holy Spirit is also love! Theologians tell us that God the Father loves the Son, and God the Son loves the Father, and the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God’s love will burn away our sins! Thus we read in the gospel today:
“John declared before them all, ‘I baptize you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Lk 3:16/Pentecost, Acts 2)
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord is with us to save us! More than that the first reading also tells us that God is not only with us to save us, but God also rejoices with us! Thus we read in the first reading:
“Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away. The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear. When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zp 3:14-18a)
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to rejoice because God is with us to save us! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:
“Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is 12:6)
And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:
“Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my savior. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is 12:2-3)
4. Finally, the second reading tells us to rejoice in the Lord because the Lord is near! Thus we read in the second reading: “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Ph 4:4) And thus the “Entrance Antiphon” of today’s Mass which is taken from the first verse of today’s second reading with a different translation (Ph 4:4): “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.”!
The first word of the “Entrance Antiphon” of today’s Mass is the name given to this Third Sunday of Advent, that is, “Rejoice Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday”! Today we celebrate Joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Christmas! That is why we use rose colored vestment to symbolize joy, light the rose candle, start caroling, start making the Christmas Crib, start putting up the Christmas Tree, etc.!
5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. The Holy Spirit will help us practice charity and justice to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of his Holy Spirit, that is, the fire of his love, and we will be very happy! A happy Advent to all of you! Amen!