Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Responsorial Psalm—Isaiah 12: 2-3. 4, 5-6, R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.; Philippians 4: 4-7; Gospel—Luke 3: 10-18
“Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4: 4)
With these words we open the celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, a reminder that our Christian faith is a faith of joy, a joy that links ever so closely and deeply with the Risen Lord.
This Sunday, we also have this as our second reading. It centers our Advent pilgrimage on Jesus and the joy He won for us.
The Gospel, as well as the Alleluia, give us the “how.” This was what the Lord read in the synagogue.
The complete text is: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord … Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4: 18-21)
Honesty and integrity
John the Baptist in the Gospel adds to this when he tells the crowds, the tax collectors and the soldiers: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise … Stop collecting more than what is prescribed … Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
In both these passages we see clearly that the path to a Christ-centered life lived in and with joy is one of service. It is first and foremost a service that “bring[s] glad tidings to the poor” and fulfills the promises of the Kingdom of God. It likewise exhorts us to live a life of sharing and compassion, and for those who serve in public office, it has to do so with honesty and integrity.
The joy of our faith is most deeply experienced in living our life in service, a very clear form of service—service to the poor that is founded on the building of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of justice, equality, care, compassion that leads to an experience of healing and wholeness not just for the poor, but for all of us. It is service to the poor that is moral and principled, the integrity of living out the core values and principles of one’s office or profession.
To live in joy is to live a life witnessing to the service of John the Baptist, who points us to the true servant, the first and greatest man-with-and-for-others, Jesus Christ. Ultimately all service is to serve with and for Jesus with great joy.
“Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.”
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