(Lk. 3:10-18) Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, 1st Day of Simbang Gabi

In today’s Gospel, the Third Sunday of Advent, also called Gaudete Sunday because the theme is “rejoice,” we have John being asked by the crowd, tax collectors and soldiers about what they were suppose to do before the coming of the Messiah. It sets the tone for the spirit of Advent. The Messiah is coming not only to celebrate with us but to assess how we have spent the gift of life He had given us. Thus, the question, “What are we suppose to do?” is very relevant.

The questions and answers in the Gospel reflects the concerns of the day during the time of John and the Lord Jesus. The concern for many is charity;

“Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”

The tax collectors were encouraged to be honest;

“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”

The soldiers were admonished to be loyal, be contented and not make false accusation;

“Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”

The same question must be asked by us for our own preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Let me suggest three things we need to address and ask ourselves.

First is the seeming lack of respect. Respect for the elders, officials, creation and for each other. Respect is equivalent to the commandment of God to honour our parents. Greeting and kissing the hand of elders are rarely practiced. Many had become arrogant against leaders. Respect is necessary to recognize authorities and self limitations. Humility promotes order and cooperation. Once I asked a parent why she was crying. She said that she had a shouting match with her daughter. “Are you crying because you were hurt and disrespected?”, I asked. “Yes, and also because I know that in the end, she will also end up crying for not listening!”, she said.

Second, is luxury. Luxury has become a luxury not only of the rich but also of the poor. Yes, even the poor are luxurious. Many claim to be suffering from poverty. That fact is certain. It cannot be denied. But at times, people are more poor because of their luxurious life. Upon examination, many of their expenses are unnecessary. It means they need not spend for those. We can look at our rooms, closets, drawers and other places where we secure our things. We will be surprised to see that we have so many unused if not excess, things! A survey conducted shows that an individual’s budget on food had been severely diminished or sacrificed. Where did it go? You will be surprised to know. (I will reveal it at the end of this reflection!) Cell phones had become an ordinary gadget for ALL! It used to be only for businessmen and people of vital functions. It has become a common use of communication. Yet, it is still considered a luxury just because new ones are released every year!

Third is morality. If we have not arrived yet at the level of amorality, we have arrived at a lower level of morality or maybe seeming one foot in the realm of immorality. A little lie, no problem. Some corruption here and there, never mind. Murder and rape, sad but those are realities. Pre- marital sex, extra-marital sex, unfaithfulness, same sex marriage. Wow! But we need to tolerate them because we cannot stop them or out of respect for their rights! Really? So, Sexuality has been regarded as something purely physical, unmanageable, human nature, relative, and maybe even healthy! Experiences prove that these were dangerous and perilous positions.

Thus, these days are days of self-introspection and reflection. How is our relationship with God? What do we need to change in ourselves? Are we aware of what we are to gain and to lose as a consequences of our status? Do we believe in its urgency? Are we resolve to change?

(Survey says that the part of the food budget sacrificed goes to cellphone load! It means that communication and become so important that we may opt to lessen our nutrition need. Swell!)

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