Scriptures of the day: Zephaniah 3:14-18
Philippians 4:4-7 Luke 3: 10-18
This Sunday’s readings are filled with expressions of joy and jubilation. The prophet Zephaniah tells us to “shout for joy” because God is in our midst and will rejoice over us with gladness. Picture God breaking into song when he looks at us!! What a great expression of God’s love for us, of how much God delights in us. But this reading also expresses the warmth and fervor of God’s love for his people. The Advent message is “Love comes to us” which is expressed here in 2 extremes..God’s exuberance and God’s silent love.
In the second reading, Paul invites the Christians of Philippi to be happy in the Lord. “Rejoice always, I say it again rejoice. The Lord is near”. I am always happy when I know someone or something I love is near… a friend, a birthday, a celebration of any kind, a vacation, Christmas! I smile when I know something good is near. We can experience the nearness of Christ when we see him in other people… The lonely, the grieving , the hungry, those needing a loving hug in these difficult days.
This can be challenging as we try to accept and welcome that love and share it with those who are begging to be loved. Those looking for a glimmer of joy and hope in their lives.
We hear the same message from Pope Francis in his papal document “The Joy of the Gospel” when he says ” the joy of the Gospel fills the heart and lives of all who encounter Jesus. “With Jesus Christ, joy is constantly born anew”.
The gospel of Luke speaks of the expected coming of Jesus. Just as John the Baptist stepped aside and led people to Jesus, so we are asked to be God’s instruments leading others to know and experience Jesus and bringing the good news of Jesus to others. When the crowds asked John the Baptist to tell them what to do, he replied “whoever has 2 cloaks should share with the person who has none”. Perhaps during this season of giving we might consider sharing what we have with those in need . Take some time this Advent to think about and decide what you can do to make someone’s Christmas a little happier.
Rejoice. This is the day when families and friends come together to share the joy of the season by singing carols and exchanging gifts. We have been waiting anxiously, maybe even frantically, to get ready to make everything just perfect for our guests. We all know that waiting and preparing in anticipation of the celebration enhances the joy and excitement of the special day. It is so much a part of what makes the actual day very special. But sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness of the season that we forget the “reason for the season”. Just as we happily struggle to make our homes suitable and comfortable to welcome our guests, we need to remember to rejoice as we wait and prepare for God who delights in us so much that he wants to break into our lives. Rejoice, the Lord is near!
By Sister Josita DiVita, F.D.C.