(Zeph 3.14-18a; Phil 4.4-7; Lk 3.10-18)
Like me, you are probably looking forward to the end of a trying and tiring year. Not being able to be with close friends and family at moments of joy or parting; hours of bringing zoom and office work into the sacred space of home; watching the gloomy numbers on TV – all these lay invisible but weighty burdens on our shoulders and hearts. As a spiritual director I have been particularly pulled asunder by fiercely presented views of whether to be vaccinated or not.
So roll on Christmas.
This Sunday’s readings, however, already offer snapshots of coming hope and respite. Not for nothing has it been labelled Gaudete Sunday (from the Latin word for rejoice, the opening word of Paul’s exhortation to his friends in Philippi). The prophet Zephaniah asks us to let go of our worries, “The Lord has removed the judgment against you… The Lord, your God, is in your midst. (3.15-16) Paul echoes the same message. “Have no anxiety at all… then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4.6,7)
The key to this transformation, according to John the Baptist, is to share our bounty and blessedness with others. So much of our behaviour is rooted in the need for security and affirmation: eating too much, prising money dishonestly, blaming others … and so much more. The Baptist assures us that God can mend these cracks in our engine and chassis… “One mightier than I is coming… he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Lk 3.18)
The secret is simply, let go and let God.
3rd Sunday of Advent year CThis Sunday