3rd Sunday of Advent Year C – 15
Zep.3:14-18/ Phil.4:4-7/ Lk.3:10-18
As we began the Mass, we lighted the third candle of the Advent wreath, which is the pink-colored candle. It also signifies that the third Sunday of Advent is also called “Gaudete Sunday”. “Gaudete” means rejoice.
Yes, the first reading tells us to rejoice and exalt with all our hearts. The second reading also has this call to rejoice as St Paul tells the Philippians: I want you to be happy, always happy with the Lord.
Yes, a pink-colored candle standing in the midst of three dark purple candles tells us life can have its joyful moments amidst disappointments and sadness and sorrow. So I hope we can laugh a little with this story that I am going to tell.
You might have heard this story before but it fits into our reading today. From the shadows in the distance, the man watched as the family packed their bags in the car, locked the doors and then drove off for their holidays.
The man waited till it was dark and then he emerged from the shadows and he went to the front door and rang the door-bell of the house. When there was no answer, the man, a seasoned burglar picked the lock of the front door and got in.
Then just to be sure that no one was in the house, he called out, “Is there anyone in?” Hearing nothing, he was about to move on, when he was stunned by a voice, “I see you, and Johnny sees you!” The burglar panicked and called out, “Who’s that?”
And again, the voice came back, “I see you, and Johnny sees you!” Terrified, the burglar switched on his flashlight and pointed it towards the direction of the voice. He was relieved to see that it was a parrot in a cage and it recited once again, “I see you, and Johnny sees you!”
The burglar laughed to himself and said, “Oh, shut up stupid bird. Anyway, who is this Johnny? Is it another bird friend of yours?” And the parrot replied, “Johnny is right below me!” And the burglar shone his flashlight at what was below the parrot’s cage.
And there he saw Johnny, a huge Doberman, looking at the burglar with those eyes, and growling. And then, the parrot said, “Go Johnny, go!”
Well, I guess that it is good to have a little laugh on this “Rejoice Sunday”. But if the first two readings talk about rejoicing and happiness then the gospel message is certainly serious and it is no laughing matter.
Last Sunday, we heard John the Baptist preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins. And today we heard that people, all sorts of people, including those detestable and sneaky tax collectors, and those rough and tough soldiers coming to hear him.
As they hear the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins, they had one common question: What must we do? The people asked, “What must we do?” The tax collectors asked, “What must we do?” The soldiers asked, “What must we do?”
They asked that question because they have heard the voice. Not just the voice of John the Baptist, but also the voice of the Lord. Yes, it was the voice of the Lord that spoke to them in their hearts telling them that they had not shared their goods with those who were poor.
They had ignored those who were hungry and had nothing to live on. They fell into dishonesty and injustice. And then, they heard the voice of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was like telling them, “I see you, and the Lord sees you.”
In a way, we are like that burglar who breaks into a house at night and thinks that nobody is watching. That’s what happens when we sin. When we sin, we enter into the dark. And in the darkness of sin, we think that no one is watching as we commit dishonesty and injustice, selfishness and greed, lust and immorality.
And just when we thought we are going to enter deeper into the dark, the voice of John the Baptist calls out to us, “I see you, and the Lord sees you!” What are we going to do? Are we going to stop in our tracks?
Or are we not going to be bothered and go on deeper into the dark and into sin? There is one Christmas song that I like to listen to as well as reflect upon. The title is “Do you hear what I hear?”
It is composed in 1962 and it was written at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the United States and the then Soviet Union confronted each other over the placement of missiles in newly Communist Cuba.
So the Christmas song “Do you hear what I hear?” was a plea for peace, and the composers Regney and Shayne got the inspiration after watching a baby being pushed in a pram, and sleeping peacefully.
So do we hear the voice of John the Baptist? Maybe he is just telling us, “I see you and the Lord sees you.” It is not to frighten us but to call us to repent and have our sins forgiven. So, do you hear what I hear? If we do hear, then we will also know what to do.
There is a beautiful opportunity for us if you hear what I hear. The opportunity for all of us on Wednesday to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We will have the confessions heard at 5.00 in the evening by 5 priests. Please make use of this opportunity to prepare ourselves for the Christmas.
Because the voice belongs to the one who will bring us goodness and light. As that Christmas song tells us – “He will bring us goodness and light, He will bring us goodness and light.”
So we are called to a change of life. John the Baptist, stern and uncompromising preacher, challenges our superficial attempts at change, demanding that we take a deeper look. Obeying the commandments is a good start, but we must then examine our relationships with others.
We must mend ruptures and frictions, face family responsibilities, work honestly and treat employees justly. Start where you are, John says. Our domestic and social lives must be put in order. John’s voice is sober and runs counter to the intoxicating voices around us.
He calls for rectitude and social consciousness. We must abandon our selfish thirst for consumption, and instead, be filled with the expectation of Jesus’ coming. Amen.