Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year C
Theme: WHAT SHALL WE DO?
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday December 12 2021
(ZEPHANIAH 3:14-18A, PHIL. 4:4-7, LUKE 3:10-18)
The season of Advent is a time of waiting, which traditionally is defined as preparation. It’s normal to begin to plan the menu, shop for gifts or write the annual cards. These are the usual ways to prepare for Christmas. But one important part is left out. A soul that is devoid of joy is certainly devoid of Christ for Christ is the source and fountain of joy and it is fitting that as we prepare for His coming in glory and for the commemoration of His birth amongst us in human form over 2000 years ago, that our hearts should be filled with joyful hope.
That is why, the Third Sunday of Advent is known as the Gaudete Sunday, a title taken from the very first word of the Latin version of the Invitatory Antiphon today “Gaudete in Domino semper – Rejoice in the Lord always.” The word “rejoice” is composed of two words: “re” (again) and “joy”. So, St. Paul repeated his exhortation: “I shall say it again: rejoice!” he insists, despite, writing from a dark Roman prison and without any certainty that he can still come out alive. Most visible in the liturgical setting of this unique Sunday is the rare liturgical colour rose that is worn by the priest. “‘Rose’ is a lighter version of violet, because today the penitential violet is mixed with the white of the approaching festival.” This white that is mixed with the usual violet to give us the colour rose is a perceptible sign of the joy that must bubble in our hearts in a happy expectation of “He Who came and Who is to come.”
The readings of today are concentrated with this theme of joy and the exhortation to be joyful. This joy can never be bottled! It is very contagious! The palpable sign of the presence of joy in us is our ability to inspire joy in others; especially those who seem to have no reason to rejoice. As we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be containers and sharers of joy! We contain this joy when our hope is alive and active! A hope that is alive and active is a hope that prepares, a hope that partakes in the celebrations of the sacraments, especially in this Season, the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the eucharist. It is such hope that inflames our hearts with joy and leads us to export this joy to our brothers and sisters.
With the Gospel today, three times the question is asked: What are we to do? How many times have we been asking ourselves: What am I going to do? Christmas is two weeks away and I’m not ready for it – maybe all my gifts haven’t been purchased, maybe my cards still haven’t been sent. Maybe I don’t have time for my family because I am working. Maybe I have not been feeling well, or someone close to me is ill. Maybe there are difficulties cropping up in my relationship with my partner. Maybe people around us or we ourselves are suffering – from sickness, depression, and addictions. What am I to do? This is the same question that people were asking John the Baptist 2000 years ago. This is the human condition, and it has not changed.
My brothers and sisters, rejoicing in the Lord is not just a matter of thanking and praising God. Rather, it means two things. First, it is an ‘Attitude’ of trust during life’s difficulties and troubles. St. Paul said: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Phil 4:6). Secondly, rejoicing should manifest itself in acts of kindness. Again, St. Paul said: “Your kindness should be known to all”. And St. John the Baptist, therefore, calls us to action; “The Lord is nearby”
As we gather around the Table of the Eucharist in joyful expectation of the Feasts ahead, may God renew within us the joy of our salvation, not just at Christmas but every day of our lives and ultimately at the Parousia.
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara