A Joyful Sunday?

When were you joyful the last time you were told not to do something?

As Sunday, Dec. 12, was the third Sunday in Advent, it was Gaudette Sunday. Gaudette Sunday provides a break from the otherwise penitential period of Advent. It is a time to rejoice, for the coming of the Lord is near.

The first two readings declare Israel to rejoice. Zephaniah 3:14-18a begins, “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel!”

The responsorial psalm is from Isaiah chapter 12:6, “Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.”

Most are familiar with the Bible verse from the second reading, Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again:  rejoice!”

After these joyous readings, listeners are probably feeling happy and excited for the coming of the Lord, as they should be. But the Gospel reading from Luke 3:10-18, grounds everyone to the reality that we must repent to be worthy of the coming of the “great and Holy One of Israel.”

Repentance is required, for Revelation 21:26-27 declares that nothing unclean will enter heaven, nor anyone who does abominable things or tells lies.

The people asked John what they should do to live a repentant and holy life. He said, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”

Some of the roughest and most disliked people, Roman soldiers and tax collectors, asked him for specifics, “What about us? What should we do?”

To the tax collectors he said, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” And to the soldiers he said, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”

The reading closes, “Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.” John’s message of repentance was Good News!

They recognized in John the truth and hope for the future, even wondering if he were the coming Messiah. They were willing to change their lives because of this truth and hope.

But we have something even greater than John. We have the actual Messiah, Jesus Christ, who baptizes not with water alone, but also with fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Our baptism includes that fire since we were baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We need to realize this and rejoice, for it is truly Good News!

Advent Confessions

Let us repent and rejoice! At Catholic churches in Victoria, each night this week at 6:30 p.m., the sacrament of reconciliation will be held at a different parish:

Monday, Dec. 13, Our Lady of Victory

Tuesday, Dec. 14, Our Lady of Sorrows

Wednesday, Dec. 15, Our Lady of Lourdes

Thursday, Dec. 16, Holy Family

Friday, Dec. 17, St. Mary’s