Third Sunday of Advent Year C by Fr Isaac A Mensah

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Third Sunday of Advent Year C by Fr Isaac A Mensah

1st Reading Zephaniah 3:14-18A
Responsorial Psalm Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
2nd Reading Philippians 4:4-7
Gospel Luke 3:10-18

Theme: When God Rejoices…..


Traditionally speaking the third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday which has a focus on joy. Indeed, almost all the texts for this Sunday speak of joy.

Explanation of the text

Our first reading from the Prophet Zephaniah sets the tone: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” (3:14). A cursory examination of this opening words of the Prophet reveals an indescribable joy; from “Sing, Shout, Rejoice and Exult”.

Why this invitation to sing the Hallelujah chorus in a foreign land during the era of captivity? The answer is simply because the Lord has issued a pardon and commuted Israel’s sentence. The judgement against Judah and Jerusalem are turned aside and the nation ( at least a remnant thereof) is set free.

Again the Prophet Zephaniah goes ahead to say to the people “fear not!” ( 3:16). It is an admonition nay an injunction spoken to everyone who encounters the near presence of the Lord or the Lord’s angel, a presence gracious but nonetheless terrifying; confer Mary and Zechariah in the infancy narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus. They are not to be afraid because “the king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst” (3:15). Interesting the image now shifts from God as pardoning judge and king to God as saviour and warrior.

Intriguingly verse 17 repeats some words in the opening address of the Prophet like “rejoicing”. However this time it is the LORD who is the subject of the verbs! Human beings are not the only ones who are filled with joy; God too, bursts into song! Why? Because the relationship is restored.

In our Gospel reading John the Baptist the patron of Advent season calls on his audience to amend and restore their broken relationships with God and one another. He debunks the popular but erroneous interpretation of generational promise, which begins from Abraham, continues with Isaac and Jacob and is extended through then to all their descendants. John the Baptist says that this promise is meaningless apart from repentance. In other words, claiming promise of Abraham without the faith of Abraham simply doesn’t work.

Just as each group in the crowd asked “What then should we do? How shall we respond to this season of Advent? The answer is to repent not just with mere words. John recommends action-oriented fruits of repentance; one which doesn’t deprive our neighbour of what they need. Repentance here is not just about the dialectic of faith and sin: rather it is about how we are living out the love of our neighbour.

It is only by doing this that God will rejoice over us. Remember Luke 15:7 says “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. In the scriptures we are accustomed to images of God as Judge, as a Shepherd, gathering the flock into the fold. But how often do we imagine God as one who Rejoices? One who sings and exults?

This Sunday we speak of joy, the joy of a people redeemed and restored, but also the joy of God who is deeply involved in the affairs of men. God sings. God shouts. God rejoices. And we, who are wondrously and inexplicably God’s beloved, join in the celebration.


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