Liturgy of the Sunday

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Third Sunday of Advent


First Reading

Zephaniah 3,14-17

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! Yahweh has repealed your sentence; he has turned your enemy away. Yahweh is king among you, Israel, you have nothing more to fear. When that Day comes, the message for Jerusalem will be: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. Yahweh your God is there with you, the warrior-Saviour. He will rejoice over you with happy song, he will renew you by his love, he will dance with shouts of joy for you,

Psalmody

Psalm 12

Antiphon

How long will your hide your face from me O Lord.

How long, O Lord, will you forget me?
How long will you hide your face?

How long must I bear grief in my soul,
this sorrow in my heart day and night?
How long shall my enemy prevail?

Look at me, answer me, Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes
lest I fall asleep in death,

Lest my enemy say :'I have overcome him';
lest my foes rejoice to see my fall.

As for me, I trust in your merciful love.
Let my heart rejoice in your saving help;
Let me sing to the Lord in his goodness to me.

Second Reading

Philippians 4,4-7

Always be joyful, then, in the Lord; I repeat, be joyful. Let your good sense be obvious to everybody. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 3,10-18

When all the people asked him, 'What must we do, then?' he answered, 'Anyone who has two tunics must share with the one who has none, and anyone 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 the appointed 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 wonder whether John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, 'I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, who is more powerful than me, 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.' And he proclaimed the good news to the people with many other exhortations too.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

This third Sunday of Advent brings us to the banks of the river Jordan with John the Baptist and the crowds that were gathering around the prophet. We too ask ourselves: "What then should we do?" It is the question of this Advent. We recognize our limits, our enclosures. We are often satisfied with ourselves, our habits, and our pride, and we think we have done everything that is possible; we cannot go any further. But in doing this we close the doors of our hearts. If we are waiting for a different world, one that is more peaceful, just, and caring, we must open our hearts to the prophet, to the Gospel, and ask, "What then should we do?"
John asks us to be serious, honest, and loyal. He urges the soldiers to reject violence and not to harm others. With simplicity he adds, "Do not abuse and be satisfied." It is a reminder to act in a gentle and humane way towards others, whoever they are. It is an important reminder in a society like ours, where it is easy to treat others badly, especially when we do not know them. John then asks us to be satisfied. It is a reminder to have limits, a reference to the wisdom of not chasing after all the things that satisfy us, consuming them one after another, even at the cost of trampling on others.
And then there are the people who listen to John. They are people who are not too bad off, who have two coats and enough to eat. They are the people of our world and our cities. We should reflect on John's answer to them: "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." This too is a simple and clear answer. We need to ask ourselves how to give something to eat to those who do not have it and how to clothe those who do not have clothing. How can we stay calm when so many people in the world do have food or clothing? This is a major issue in our time. If our world continues to cast aside the poor and the weak, we are asked to widen our hearts to the ends of the earth, so that none "of these little ones should be lost."
John's preaching invites us to look to this wider horizon. John knew he was not the Messiah, and said plainly, "one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." But he was aware of his responsibility of being a "voice" that cries out. And this responsibility honoured him to the point of martyrdom. Like the Baptist we too are aware of our smallness but also of our responsibility to proclaim the "good news" of the kingdom of God to all.