What should we do to have peace within us in this day and age of terrorism and self-destruction?

Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-18A

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies; the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

Philippians 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Luke 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.” Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

In this third Sunday of Advent as we anticipate and prepare ourselves to relive the spirit of that first Christmas more than two thousand years ago, the scripture readings remind us of the comings of Jesus Christ. The Gospel reading is about the first coming of Christ and the Second reading is about His second coming.

In the Gospel reading, we can see and feel the people’s passionate anticipation for the coming of the Messiah who according to prophesy, was to deliver them from their distress and predicament in this world. They asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” (Luke 3:12) as they awaited the coming of the Messiah. The advice from John the Baptist was for them to share what they had with those who had not, to be satisfied with what was due to them, to not be greedy. This advice is timeless, we must do what is right and just to our neighbors, even more so in this day and age of terrorism and self-destruction.

As we anticipate the re-birth of Christ in us in a spiritual way, we are also awaiting His second coming. The people asked John the Baptist “What should we do?” We also want to ask, “What should we do to have peace within us in a world of fighting, retaliation and violence with no peace in sight?” The answer is in the words of St. Paul in the Second reading: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6) In other words, we are encouraged to pray and ask for God’s grace. We must offer to God our fears, worries and our needs. If we do so, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

We celebrate the Christmas spirit of joy, love and peace with our family and friends, people who are dear to us. As we engage ourselves in the festive celebrations, I remember what a colleague of mine does during Advent every year. She is not Christian. But she picks a charity every year to make a donation before she does her Christmas shopping to make sure that this act of charity would not be overlooked as the preparation for Christmas becomes hectic. Personally I am very impressed. I think this is a fine example of sharing what we have with those who are less fortunate. Such generosity is of special significance during Christmas, the season of giving and sharing.

Posted: December 13, 2015

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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