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Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday) (C) (13th December, 2015) on the Gospel

Zeph 3:14-18;
Is 12: 2-6 (R.v. 6);
Phil 4:4-7;
Lk 3:10-18.

Topic: Do not rob Peter.
Today is also known as Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. Recall that rose or pink vestment can be used today instead of violet or purple. We are called to rejoice because our salvation is close at hand.

Saint Paul calls on us all to lead a life worthy of our calling, cf. Eph 4:1; 1Pt 3:8-12. And every Christian is given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift, cf. Eph 4:7; 1Cor 12:12-31. As a result, each Christian is expected to fulfil both the general as well as more specifics duties. To whom much is given much is also expected, cf. Lk 12:48. Hence, while John the Baptist was preparing the people through his proclamation, the crowds asked him: “What then should we do?” and he replied “... ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise’” (Lk 3:11). Afterwards, when the tax collectors put the same question to him he told them to “Collect no more than the amount prescribed ...” (Lk 3:13). And to the soldiers who also asked the same question he said: “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages” (Lk 3:14). The tax collectors and the soldiers beyond sharing what they have with their brothers and sisters must also do their work well.

Just as we are in a special period of preparation for Christ called Advent John the Baptist was preparing the people in today’s gospel for the Messiah, cf. Jn 1:19-23. The call to rejoice is not just a spiritual thing. To be a Christian is not synonymous with to be sad. Christians like other humans are made up of body and soul. And Jesus did not neglect any part as replete in the bible, (cf. Mk 6:37; 7:24-30; 32-35 among so many). Therefore rejoicing ought not be just spiritual.

 And like the crowds, the tax collectors, and the soldiers our main concern should be: ‘What then should we do?’ And that answer given by John the Baptist is still valid today as ever: ‘Share with others whatever you have’ because love is the mark of our discipleship, cf. Jn 13:35. Hence Saint James rightly queries:

“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?” (Jas 2:15-16).

And in his first letter, Saint John also asks: “... if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1Jn 3:17).

We are to make others see our salvation and rejoice. To do this, we must feed the hungry and quench the thirst of the thirsty, (cf. Is 32:6) because this is what God wants of us this season and always:

[To] ... loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke .... to share your [our] bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your [our] house; when you [we] see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself [ourselves] from your [our] own kin (Is 58:6-7).

Every Christian is a light in and for the world, (cf. Matt 5:14). This light can only shine if we pour ourselves out for the hungry and satisfy the desires of the afflicted, cf. Is 58:10. Christ became poor just to enrich us and expects us to do likewise for our brothers and sisters, cf. 2Cor 8:9. But as we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and so on; we must not rob Peter just to pay Paul. Do not steal from one to feed or clothe another.

Bible Readings: Is 58:1-14; Matt 25:31-46; 1Cor 7:1-16. 17-24. 25-40. 12:12-31; Jas 2:14-26; 1Jn 3:11-24.

Thought for today: Each person can make at least one person to rejoice today. And you need not look for another person to do it, cf. Matt 14:16.

Let us pray: God, as we wait with joy the coming of your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ, help us to make those we will meet today and forever rejoice – Amen.

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