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

by Shiu Lan
Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-18A

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:10-18

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.