“The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)

by Shiu Lan
Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-18A

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:10-18

As more candles are lit and burning brightly in the Advent wreath, we go through another Sunday in the season of Advent. We are one week closer to commemorating and celebrating the coming of Jesus into this world through his birth.

In anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ, Light of the world, this Sunday’s readings are brimming with the hope and joy of salvation, we should “Shout aloud and sing for joy, great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel”, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might” (Responsorial Psalm, Isaiah 12). We should throw away our worries in joyful hope, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:5-6).

In the Gospel reading, we hear the question “What should we do?” asked by the crowds who gather to be baptized by John the Baptist. He gives them practical advice and teaches the tax collectors and soldiers to carry out their duties with honesty and integrity, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you” and “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages” (Luke 3:13-14).

Then what about us, what should we do in this life, we who have been baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit? Let us ponder on St. Paul’s advice in the second reading: “Let your gentleness be known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5) and on John the Baptist’s immense humility when people think whether he might be the Messiah, to which he answers, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals” (Luke 3: 16).

Is this not who Jesus said He is, “I am gentle and humble of heart” (Matthew 11:29)?