A biblical refection on the THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:10-18
First Reading: Zeph 3:14-18; Psalms: Is 12:2-6
The Scripture Text
And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" and he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you." Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" and he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, to clear His threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into His granary, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire."
So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people. (Lk 3:10-18 RSV)
Zephaniah exhorted God's people to exult with all their hearts because God would soon bring His plan of salvation to fulfillment (Zeph 3:14). As we prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth, we rejoice because God, through the first coming of His son, has begun to fulfill his promises. In Christ, God has taken away the judgments against us which (by our sins) we deserve (Zeph 3:15). In Christ, God has come to live in our midst, renewing us in His love, taking away our fears and delivering us from all evil (Zeph 3:16-18).
John the Baptist, announcing the imminent fulfillment of God's promises, told the crowds to "bear fruits that befit repentance" (Lk 3:8). When asked, "What then shall we do?" (Luk 3:10), he told them to help the needy and be just with each other. If they wanted to enter the Kingdom of God, they had to reform their lives.
If we desire Christ's life and salvation, we too must change our lives. Not only must we accept Jesus as Savior, we must also – by the conversion of our lives – obey Him as Lord. God asks us to act justly toward one another: He has showed you. O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Mic 6:8). Therefore, in all our relationships we should act according to God's commandments, treating one another fairly, neither exploiting nor taking advantage of each other. At work we should act justly by doing an honest day's work (Lk 3:13-14).
Furthermore, we should try to be conscious of others' needs, helping them whenever we can. "If any one 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). Our love for Jesus is shown to be genuine by loving one another.
We can be joyful because God is fulfilling His plan of salvation. Our joy will not be lasting, however, unless we respond to Jesus' first coming by reforming our lives. Christ's peace grows in us only as we repent of our sins and approach God "with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb 10:22). Then we will be filled with an abiding, unchanging joy and "the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:7).
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I commit myself to living a life that bears fruit in keeping with repentance. Fill me, dear Lord Jesus, with Your Holy Spirit, and give me the grace and strength to be faithful to you. May those I meet today see Christ in me, so that they too will be led to ask: "What must I do to be saved?" Amen.
Source: A Christian Pilgrim
Advent Week 3
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