Detailed homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year C
Theme: THE JOY OF SHARING
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday December 12 2021
R1 – Zeph 3:14-18
R2 – Phil 4:4-7
GOSPEL – Luke 3:10-18
St. Martin of Tours is famous for sharing his cloak with a man who was begging in the cold.
He was a soldier in the Roman army and one day, during a severe winter, he met a poor man who was begging near the gate to the city. The man was almost naked and was trembling with cold. Martin felt called to help the man, but had nothing with him. He drew his sword and cut his army cloak in two—wrapping himself in what was left and giving the beggar the other half.
That night, Martin had a dream in which he saw Jesus himself dressed in the half of his cloak that he had cut. “Martin has covered me with his garment,” he heard Jesus say.
Beloved in Christ, today the 3rd Sunday of Advent, is traditionally called Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday. The word ‘Gaudete’ is taken from the first word of the opening antiphon, “Gaudete in Domino semper, iterum dico Gaudete, Dominus prope est” (“Rejoice in the Lord always; I repeat, rejoice. The Lord is coming near”). Today we light the rose candle of the Advent wreath, and the priest may wear rose vestments, signifying the expression of our communal joy in the coming of Jesus as our Savior.
However, we ask ourselves these salient questions, “Considering our present day realities, is there really any reason for us to Rejoice and be happy?” “Is there any cause for rejoicing, when we think of the rising insecurity everyday, global food scarcity, health challenges, heartlessness of most governments, intimidations and brutality by the force, incessant killings by bandits, terrorists and unknown gun men, unemployment, broken relationships and marriages?, etc.
Nevertheless, we rejoice because:
(i) We are celebrating the day of Christ’s birth. The glorious birth that changed everything for good.
(ii) We recognize Jesus’ daily presence in our midst through our participation in the mysteries and Sacraments of the church.
(iii) We wait for Christ’s return in glory.
So, the joy of the Lord (our anticipated Massiah), which supercedes our transient happiness is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
Furthermore, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy propel us to rise above the physical and ephemerals and adopt more reasons to rejoice.
Zephaniah, in the first reading, encourages Jerusalem and Israel to shout out for the joy of their expected deliverance by the Lord. Zephaniah prophesied during the most difficult times in the history of the chosen people, Israel. Corruption was the order of the day. Most of the priests, kings, government officials, prophets and judges were corruption and indifferent. The people betrayed their God and became quite immoral. Zephaniah, who had threatened them with the day of the Lord, has turned around to give them hope, “Shout for joy, O Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel.”
St. Paul echoes this message of joy in the second reading, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice…” while in prison. Yet, he insists that we must rejoice despite all the hard times and difficulties we pass through.
Whereas, the Gospel reading, offers us some practical steps through which this joy could be made manifest in our Christian lives, via sharing with one another and other acts of generosity, kindness, charity, forgiveness, restitution and justice.
John went further to challenge the people to generosity and a sense of fairness so that others may have reason to rejoice. According to John, true happiness comes from doing our duties faithfully, doing good for others, and sharing our blessings with others in need.
*WHAT MUST WE DO? (THE JOY OF SHARING)*
The joy of the season (the coming of the Messiah), is not one that can be contained, restricted or restrained by any force, situations, individual or space. Rather, it is for all and sundry. Imagine the socio-political bizarre experienced by the chosen people that necessitated the consoling words of Zephaniah in the first reading and the incarceration experienced by St Paul in prison as of the time he encourages all faithful to rejoice and shout out for joy.
Such an inconceivable joy is one that cannot be exhausted or monopolized. It is a joy for all humanity to participate and share. No one has the effontery to deny others from having a share in the joy of Christmas.
For this joy to be complete, we must reflect and apply the true meaning of ‘JOY’ via acronyms:
J = Jesus
O = Others
Y = Yourself.
In other words, the Christmas joy is incomplete and deficient when we don’t prioritize celebrating Jesus and others first. We must put Jesus first, others second and ourselves third. This is only accomplished through sharing. Celebrating and sharing the Christmas ‘JOY,’ begins with seeing Jesus in the poor and needy; as we see in the introit story of Martin of Tours. The scripture assures us in our Saviour’s ipsissima verba (exact words), “In truth I tell you, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Mtt 25:40).
This is exactly what St John means in the Gospel when he addressed people from various walks of life who came to ask how to prepare well for their own threefold comings of Jesus.
(i) _TO ALL THE PEOPLE_
“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” (Lk 10:11).
(ii) _TO THE TAX COLLECTORS_
“Exact no more than your rate” (Lk 3:13).
(iii) _TO THE SOLDIERS_
“No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!” (Lk 3:15).
Invariably, Advent season that precedes Christmas is a period of sharing with the needy and less privileged; not a period of profiteering, hiking of prices, extortion, bullying, intimidation and brutality. It is a time to practice love, charity, kindness and justice.
(1) *BLOOM WHEREVER YOU ARE PLANTED
St Francis De Sales is quoted to have encouraged Christians to, “Bloom where you are planted,”
The response of John to the question, “What must we do?” also maintains that a man should not leave his job to work out his own salvation or become a minister or powerful man or woman of God. Instead, we should do our job as it should be done. He calls people to fidelity in the very circumstances of their lives. Let the tax-collector be a good tax-collector and let the soldier be a good soldier.
(2) *WE MUST BECOME PRECURSORS FOR THE COMING MESSIAH*
Every Christian should act and become like John the Baptist, Christ’s precursors: Parents, teachers, and public servants are also Christ’s precursors, carrying out the mission of bringing to Christ those entrusted to their care and them to Jesus. Parents are expected to instill in their children a true Christian spirit and an appreciation for Christian values by their own lives and behavior, likewise a teacher to the students, a leader to his subjects, a nurse to her patient, etc.
(3) *WE MUST LEARN TO SHARE THE CHRISTMAS JOY*
No one is so destitute that he/she cannot share. Every child of God needs to apply John’s message of caring and sharing. Make sure you visit and celebrate with the motherless babies homes and physically challenged and mentally drained.
Finally, a young man was looking so depressed and moody. His friend asked him, “What is the matter?” He replied, “I’m finding it difficult to save enough money for a very important trip.” The friend asked, “Which trip?” He answered, “I want to travel to Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments, inorder to recite the Ten Commandments, so as to become a holy man.” The friend now said to him, ” I think you will become a better person when you stay at home and sharing your money with the poor.”
Beloved, instead of spending on frivolities and undertaking unnecessary adventures; why not promote the ministry of SHARING this solemn season.
MAY THE LORD GRANT US A HEART THAT FEELS FOR THE POOR AND NEEDY. MAY WE NEVER HESITATE TO SHARE OUR LOAF WITH THE LESS PRIVILEGED OF THE SOCIETY.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
*HAPPY GAUDETE SUNDAY!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA._