Reflections - December 16, 2018

Third Sunday of Advent

“In those days the crowds asked John: “What then should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none…..Do not practice extortion……Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.” Lk. 3: 10-11, 18.

The question to ask on this third week of Advent is: Why the joy? There exist two joys.

There is a joy of purely hedonistic pleasure that dispenses with all that is an obstacle breaking years of marriages, not accepting sacrifices or unborn children. It is like the famous “slogan” that some repeat: “You…..are happiness or this is my body and I remove all that impedes me from living happily”, and as some cultures say “living happy and tropical…..”.

There is another joy that is not in our power: It is the unconditional mercy of the Holy Spirit that conquers men and women in the joy of Jesus Christ’s Gospel – the Word of God. Which, as Pope Francis says: “Is not a stoic ethic. It is a lifestyle that makes us live Christian morality with joy” and that counts with you. As St. Augustine says: “The one that created you without you does not justify you without you” that is why we will meditate that joy in the following scriptures.

The first reading of Zephaniah tell us: “Be glad and exult….Jerusalem….because the Lord has freed his people from the oppression of the Assyrian people. He has turned away their enemies. You have no further misfortune to fear. The Lord will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you”. This joy of the prophet Zephaniah is the fruit of gratitude for what the Lord did for his people. Perhaps a good question for everyone to ask is: Are we thankful for the gift of faith and for our salvation? Had the prophet and the people of God had lived in the time of the Incarnation of the Son of God, as we do, how much joy and gratitude would they have expressed.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist invites us to bring the joy of salvation to all men and women with a radical change of life. He said to those who had power: “Do not exhort anyone”. It is a very current message, as we do not know what business they had: “Do not charge more than the law establishes”. It seems like a social justice treaty from the 21stcentury. That’s “the joy of the Good News of Salvation”. “Dress the naked, give your bread to the hungry because whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me”. Mt. 25:40.

Let us ask the Lord in the Eucharist to welcome all brothers and sister in Christ with the joy of salvation. Pope Francis says: Remember that the joy of mercy is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person when he or she looks with sincere eyes at the every brother and sister he encounters in the path of life”.