- Zephaniah 3:14-20
- Canticle 9
- Philippians 4:4-7
- Luke 3:7-18
The Advent season combines a sense of joyous hope in God’s coming with the power in the fullness of time, as well as the radical call for repentance (a life turned around) that goes with the vision. Hope and judgment are the twin themes of the Advent season. Today’s Old Testament reading as well as today’s Canticle (The First Song of Isaiah 12:2-6) and Paul’s letter to the Philippians declare a new day of rejoicing. This Third Sunday of Advent is often referred to as Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for “rejoice.”
God did not wait till the world was ready, till . . . nations were at peace. God came when the Heavens were unsteady, and prisoners cried out for release. God did not wait for the perfect time. God came when the need was deep and great. God dined with sinners in all their grime, turned water into wine. God did not wait till hearts were pure. In joy God came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt. To a world like ours, of anguished shame God came, and God's Light would not go out. God came to a world which did not mesh, to heal its tangles, shield its scorn. In the mystery of the Word made Flesh the Maker of the stars was born. We cannot wait till the world is sane to raise our songs with joyful voice, for to share our grief, to touch our pain, God came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!Madeleine L'Engle, "A First Coming," in A Cry Like a Bell (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw, 1987)
In contrast to these readings, we continue to hear John the Baptist’s message of repentance. The radical lifestyle of the repentant Christian is outlined in the words of John in today’s gospel. Those preparing for their baptism on the First Sunday after the Epiphany (The Baptism of our Lord), and the parents and sponsors of candidates, must discern how those radical words will affect them in their covenant life. The prophetic preaching of John is to be worked out in terms of acts of justice and loving-kindness in day-to-day living.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:4-5
- What gives you cause to rejoice in your life?
- What gave the people of John’s time (or the time of Isaiah and Zephaniah) cause to rejoice?
- In Luke 3:10-14, John tells the people how they should conduct their lives in order to “bear fruits worthy of repentance.” How does John characterize our responsibilities to others here? If John were to appear today, what do you think he might tell us to change in our lives?
- In what ways is repentance a process rather than a single act? What fruits would you be “worthy of repentance” in your life? In what ways is repentance a part of your daily experience?
- In the letter to the Philippians, what does Paul say about how we are to conduct our lives as we await the Lord’s coming?
- Advent 2: Year C (prayerbookguide.wordpress.com)
- Third Sunday of Advent, Year C (preachingthenewlectionary.com)
- Third Sunday of Advent Cycle C (frdoug.typepad.com)