Gospel Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year C – December 13th 2015
When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do, then?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.
BRINGS OUT OUR BEST
This mid-point of Advent alerts us to issues of justice and equality. The prophet John has been asked as a sort of trick by people who exploited others with tax bills, and soldiers who often used their brute force on others, how they should repent. His words were tough but quite ordinary – don’t overcharge, share your surplus with the needy and don’t exploit people. It’s another, but more figurative way of stating the basic demands of ‘Love one another’.
Christmas can bring out the best in us to care for the needy. We are surrounded by charities looking for aid. We know Jesus hears the cries of the poor and he joins every carol singing group trying to help.
Christmas also asks us to consider our honest and integrity; for we know that many are poor, at home and abroad, because of the greed of others. Christmas is a reminder of a challenge that all can live with the dignity we have come to regard as human rights – education, safety, shelter, food, water, employment, freedom. The Christ child who was born poor represents all the poor of the world, especially children. As he was born ordinary, he represents that God meets, greets and helps us in the ordinary aspects of life.
The one who is to come is the one who will live and love according to these truths of human dignity and equality.
Come, Lord Jesus, child of the earth, child of God.
Come into our world of joy and sorrow.
Stay with us always now and at hour of our death. Amen.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger