The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?” He said to them in reply, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize 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 with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.
REJOICE… THE LORD IS NEAR. We are at midpoint in our Advent journey. Today is called “Gaudete Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday.” Aside from the usual violet or purple that we use in our Advent celebration, we have the option to use rose-colored pink denoting joy and gladness. We are glad and we rejoice because we know that the Messiah will come very soon.
The Book of Zephaniah is brief (three chapters only), and a large part of this book has overtones of sadness. The sins of the inhabitants of Jerusalem are listed here, and the projected destruction of the city is mentioned along with the people’s anger, anguish, despair, and sadness. But towards the end of the book, Zephaniah reveals how the Lord will lift the verdict against Jerusalem. “The Lord… will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days” (Zep 3:17-18).
Paul in the Second Reading is overflowing with gladness as he calls upon the Philippians to rejoice and give thanks to the Lord. In the Gospel, a multitude of people experience great joy as they approach John the Baptist asking for baptism. Although John has many followers, he considers himself a mere servant who is unworthy to untie the thongs of Jesus’ sandals.
What preparation does John propose to the crowd as they await the Messiah who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire? He advises them to share their goods with the needy and to carry out their duties faithfully. The publicans are taught to collect taxes justly, and the soldiers are told to refrain from extortion and to be contented with their salaries.
If we heed John’s admonitions, we can bring back joy to Christmas and celebrate it as a truly rose-colored feast!
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.