Third Sunday of Advent

3rd Sunday of Advent

"Be glad and exult with all your heart."

16

DECEMBER 2018

ZEPHANIAH 3:14-18

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.

On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

ISAIAH 12:2-3, 4, 5-6.

R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding  will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

LUKE 3:10-18

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.

Reflection:

Purification by the Fire of God

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.” Luke 3:16-17

In this sermon of John, he says that Jesus will come and baptize “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The image of being baptized “with fire” is a good one to reflect upon. It especially reveals to us the deep purification Jesus desires for our souls.
What does it mean to be purified? For one thing, purification of our soul hurts. But it hurts in a sweet sort of way. Turning from sin and growing closer to God requires great sacrifice and surrender. And it requires that we allow God to do powerful things within us. And the most powerful thing God wants to do is purify us.

Reflect, today, upon the purification to which God may be calling you. What is it that you hold on to that He wants you free of? Commit yourself to the purifying fire of God’s love and
let that love cleanse you in this Advent season.

Our Catholic faith reveals to us the reality of Purgatory after we die. Purgatory is said to be a place of much spiritual pain, but again, in a sweet sort of way. It’s painful in the sense that we are stripped of all that we hold on to that God wants us to let go of. It’s painful in the sense that we endure a complete transformation of who we are and what we love. We learn to love God and God alone. And in the embrace of our love of God, we come to love all people.

It’s also sweet because, as we are purified, we grow infinitely closer to God and grow in holiness. This lifts the burden of sin and frees us to love as we ought. But our purification ought not start only in Purgatory. We are all called to enter into that
process of purification here and now. We are called to heed the words of John the Baptist today and repent of all that keeps us from holiness of life.

Reflect, today, upon the purification to which God may be calling you. What is it that you hold on to that He wants you free of? Commit yourself to the purifying fire of God’s love and let that love cleanse you in this Advent season.

Lord, I do long to have my soul purified by You. I do desire holiness of life. Help me to begin this process here and now so that I can begin to experience the joy and freedom You have in store for me. Jesus, I trust in You.

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