Jesus is near. He will rule the world and all peoples with justice. Hence, those who wait for him, and seek his kingdom, rejoice.
The prophet Zephaniah bids those whom God has chosen to rejoice and sing with joy. For the Lord who fights for them and frees them is in their midst. Thus, too, they have nothing to fear.
And St. Paul, though a prisoner, tells the Christians at Philippi to rejoice always in the Lord who is near. They are not to be anxious at all, but go to God with prayers of thanksgiving and petition.
St. John the Baptist, in turn, gives advices that will lead no one to rejoice, so it seems. For he speaks of the wrath that will come upon the brood of vipers. Of the ax that will cut down the trees that do not bear fruit. And of the fire that will set ablaze and consume those who do no work, give no fruit, of repentance.
But if we keep in mind the joy that comes with true repentance, John’s words in the end will make those who heed him rejoice. For those who truly repent make God and the angels rejoice (Lk 15). But not only those in heaven, but also the repentant sinners themselves.
Those who repent, yes, will rejoice and be glad (Ps 51, 10). They will be full of joy since God takes back his judgment. They will rejoice for the hope of a fresh start, of belonging to the new creation. Of being part of God’s kingdom.
To rejoice and live in justice and peace through the Holy Spirit
God’s kingdom does not have to do with what to eat or drink, and what not to eat or drink. Rather, it has to do with a life of justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14, 17). In God’s kingdom, weighing more in the law are justice, mercy and faith (Mt 23, 23). Not those things the strict keepers of the law fuss about.
And those who are so sorry for their sins also lead us men and women to become more human and rejoice more. For to seek first the kingdom of God and his justice means to have all other things besides. It means to have all that we need to be blessed, happy. And no one can take away from us such such bliss. Not even those who persecute, oppress, accuse and slander us.
But we do not have to take up everything. We only have to do, yes, the things God shows us that he wants of us (SV.EN XII:92). And to share what we have. To avoid indiscrete zeal, too, since virtue lies in the middle (CRCM XII:11; SV.EN XI:206). Our modesty should show, even while we ask the Vincentian question, “What should we do?”
Lord Jesus, make us rejoice in your salvation, in giving your body up and shedding your blood for us. Renew us sinners, so that, like the Virgin of Guadalupe, we may embody your justice, your merciful and caring love. Let your salvation show on our faces.
12 December 2021
Third Sunday of Advent (C)
Zeph 3, 14-18a; Phil 4, 4-7; Lk 3, 10-18