Friday, December 11, 2009

The Joy of Giving

Third Sunday of Advent Year C

The Third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. The theme of joy is more pronounced this week. For many of us, we too are feeling the joy of the season as we approach Christmas. We are joyful not because all our problems have been solved. We are joyful not because life is perfect. We are joyful not because we think that Santa Claus is coming to give us a big present. No. Our joy is based on the fact that the Lord is very near; our salvation is near. St. Paul exhorts us to be happy in the second reading for this very reason: “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.”

Waiting for the coming of the Lord does not mean that we should just sit down and wait for death. This expectation calls for action and conversion. In today’s gospel, three groups of people ask John the Baptist what must they do. John exhorts them to share with those who are needy, be just and fair in our dealings; to refrain from intimidation and extortion to acquire what we want and finally to be satisfied with what we have. In other words, as we await the coming of Christ, we should not be selfish or greedy and think only of our own needs and wants. On the contrary, as Christians we are called to put others first before ourselves.

Many people find it hard to be generous. It is much easier to be selfish than to share our belongings with someone else. The most likely reason for this is that we are worried that what we have is not enough if it is shared between two or more persons. Again, St. Paul reminds us “that there is no need for worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.”

Therefore it is hard to be happy and joyful when you are greedy and ambitious. When you are never satisfied with what you have, when you are always afraid of losing what you have, when you are jealous of other’s prosperity – it’s really hard to be happy. It is only the man who has discovered God as fulfilling his every heart’s desire who will be happy. Only God can fill the emptiness in our hearts. Only God can satisfy our deepest longings. Only God can be the source of everlasting joy.

Let us then welcome our Lord and God. As the prophet Zephaniah tells us in the first reading, our God is “a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” When we allow the God of joy to fill our lives with his love, joy and peace, nothing can take away these things. Life need not be perfect and our problems may not be solved, but with God as the Lord and center of our lives, nothing can take away the joy of being his son and daughter.

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