“The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)

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.

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)?

Posted: December 16, 2018

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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