Homily December 16, 2012 Third Sunday of Advent
The readings for today present the theme of rejoicing, peace. expectation, thanksgiving. Zephaniah’s passage today is the only positive passage found in the book of this so-called prophet of doom. The coming of the Lord and the hope involved is reason for joy. Israel putting negative sinful ways behind them will leave room for joy even in desperate times. Paul today is again talking to the Philippians and reminding them to get it together. They should be rejoicing in the Lord always. The persecution and the hard times they are experiencing and their internal difficulties and even Paul’s imprisonment didn’t seem like reasons to rejoice, but Paul was reminding them that the nearness of God was reason enough for rejoicing.
In the Gospel, Luke presents John the Baptist again this week as the preparer for Christ to come. He was a stark and startling figure coming at an unexpected time to the waiting Jews. So it is for us even today. It is a to open ourselves to a new beginning, to a realization of the Lord’s nearness and presence. Now IS a time to put aside our sinful and negative ways and feelings of guilt and to take up the joyfulness of the banquet of life Christ calls us to. Rejoice always in the Lord, rejoice always in each other. Did not Jesus tells us when two or three gather in his name, He is there. This is the reason for our joy and celebration. Even in our daily sometimes humdrum lives we should still rejoice in the Lord, we should rejoice in what we have. For what we have really is not things but each other. That is why we reach out so tirelessly to others in this Advent Christmas time and hopefully throughout the year.
Most importantly, as we reach out, we should seek those who have lost the joy of this time, who find the celebrations depressing who feel lost or lonely or separated for one reason or another. Who knows what can trigger the violence we’ve seen this week, but all the more we should be aware of the lost and lonely around us. Open up bring them into our loving community and try to bring the nearness of God to them. While anxieties and depression and worries remain, the Lord’s nearness puts all things in perspective and brings us to a true sense of thanksgiving and ultimately to our Eucharistic thanksgiving on Christmas.