We are at the half way mark in our preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is good to look into our lives and check out what has been our progress and preparation to receive Jesus this Christmas.
Advent is a joyful expectation for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts and the world at large.
As we begin this holy mass, let us be aware that we are already in the great presence of God, His Son- Jesus and the love of the Holy Spirit. Joyfully now being aware of this let us sign our self with the sign of the Cross.
This Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday: Latin= REJOICE. We are called to rejoice because the celebrations of our Savior’s arrival draws closer and the season of preparation grows shorter.
What are the preparations that are going on in our life?
Once, I came upon a crib with only these words JOY. The readings today speak of this JOY.
The first reading: shout for Joy,
The Psalm: we say, sing out for Joy;
St. Paul: exhorts us, Rejoice in the Lord always.
How do I get this joy in this season of Advent- in the preparation for Christmas?
John the Baptist gives us the answer: Happiness or Joy comes from doing our duties faithfully, doing good to others and sharing our blessings with others. Thus when we are really filled with this JOYful expectation that Jesus is so near to us- we will then like the people in today’s gospel ask, “What should we do?”
John the Baptist told them to ACT with Justice, Charity and Honesty, so that others may rejoice.
Ordinary people= Share with those who do not have. Repent.
Tax collectors = Do not be greedy/ selfish. Be just, take what is yours. Do not rob.
Soldiers= be at peace. No fighting unjustly. Respect.
Thus what should we do in preparation for Christmas? Repent, Reform and prayerfully wait.
We can also do the following
Attend Holy Mass
The Sacraments will help us to be on track
Reading of Scripture and daily Rosary
Forgive each other
Above all SHARE.
If we do all this then there will be Joy this Christmas. Jesus, Others and You.
There is a story from the book of Anthony de Mello, an Indian Jesuit: A great Indian mystic says this about himself:
“I was a revolutionary when I was young, and all my prayer to God was: ‘Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’
As I approached middle age and realized that half my life was gone without changing a single soul. I changed my prayer to: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me. Just my family and friends, and I shall be satisfied.’
Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how foolish I have been. My one prayer now is: ‘Lord, give me the grace to change myself. If I had prayed for this right from the start, I would not have wasted my life.’
Rejoice and at the same time, be fair and just, which is brought about by one’s personal conversion- this is the right combination as our waiting during this Advent season becomes meaningful. Let us allow Jesus to be more real and present in our lives this Christmas.
Third Sunday of Advent readings are all refereeing to be joyful. Joy can happen only when those around us can live in joy and peace. Our concern for the other through our Christian life lived well. Let us ask the Lord to pardon us for the time we have failed to bring JOY to people around us.
Once a shepherd sent his son to a wise man to learn the secret of happiness. When he arrived at the beautiful palace where the wise man lived, the wise man instead of explaining to the boy the secret of happiness, handed him a spoon filled with oil and said: “Take a look around the palace. As you go around, carry this spoon with you without allowing the oil to spill. The boy began to move around the palace. As he did so he kept his eyes fixed on the spoon. After two hours he returned. ‘Well’, asked the wise man, ‘what have you seen?’ The boy was embarrassed and confessed that he had seen nothing since his only concern was not to spill the oil. “Well then: said the wise man, ‘go back and observe the marvels of my palace. You cannot trust a man if you don’t know his house.’ Relieved, the boy picked up the spoon and returned to his exploration of the palace, this time observing all the beautiful furniture and works of art, enjoying and admiring the garden, with its magnificent flowers and fountains. On returning to the wise man he related everything he had seen. ‘But where are the drops of oil I entrusted to you?’ asked the wise man. Looking down at the spoon, the boy saw that the oil was gone. The wise man said, ‘Well, the secret of happiness lies in the ability to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil in the spoon.’ The poor, the needy, the sick, the downtrodden, outcasts, the orphans, are all the drops of oil in the spoon the Lord has entrusted to you.
This Sunday of Advent we are all called to shout for JOY: Jesus others and you.
For a better Christian life. Advent is a time for preparation for Jesus by involving others and their well-being in our own lives.
In the gospel of today we focus on John the Baptist who prepared the people for the coming of the source of all joy, Jesus Christ. This can be seen through the
person of John the Baptist.
See the personality of John the Baptist: He could have claimed to be the Messiah. He was becoming really popular; many people were coming to him. But NO. He speaks to different people to seek good, seek their souls; above all for their own salvation.
Notice too how the soldiers feel that even they can get a word of salvation.
Future glimpse of John the Baptist: he never considered himself
great … speaks of his humility. Though he was consider a great preacher, yet
he said the one who is to come after me, I am not worthy to untie his sandals. He is mightier than i.
Need to welcome the Messiah by living a life of:
Faithfulness and Prayer
Good words and works
Justice and Respect for others
All these are needed to be and lead a good authentic Christian life.
Thus the different messages we get in this joyful Sunday of Advent to prepare ourselves to meet the real joy of our life: Jesus Christ.
Sharing (all that we have, look at the surplus that we have and not use … ring by the preacher)
Respect (being faithful to others)
Sense of Satisfaction (with what you have and get, wages …)
All at the time of John the Baptist after his initial preaching were willing to change and be better people. They were willing to change their hearts (last Sunday, make straight the way …); but their question was HOW?
Be just in their dealings
Do your work in the right way.
Want to be a good Catholic (Advent is the time)
Change your ways…. It must come from us, from within … not external force.
Then we are convinced to change and make this world a better place.
The people are moved and ask him, “What must we do then”
These days joy is equated with pleasure and advertisements tell us all kinds of pleasures can be bought with money. The philosophy of life is to be more get more. ‘Grab whatever you can when you get the opportunity or you will live to regret it.’ John the Baptist and Jesus will remind US of just the opposite: Give, and it will be given to you. In the Christmas season ahead of US we will be reminded of the joy of giving. Christmas is not about what presents you get but what you give to other and how happy you make them. Mark Twain once remarked “Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you have to have someone to divide it with.” The formula of joy is spelt out by the word ‘Joy’ itself. ‘J’ for Jesus, who should come first in our lives, ‘0’ for others who should come next and ‘Y’ for yourself who should come last. Unfortunately we miss out on real Joy by putting ourselves and our needs first.
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.