As I was seeking inspiration to write this reflection, the rookie draft of the PBA is on the TV screen. You can see the anxieties not only of the applicants but also among their parents, friends and supporters. For those who were drafted in the top of the order, the anxieties will remain as these rookies will be monitored if they meet the expectations of their respective team and followers.
The people in today’s Gospel are filled with expectations. They kept on asking the question: “What then should we do?” If we look back, we remember that in the first Sunday of Advent, we were told of how the “end of days” would be like, then on the second Sunday, the Gospel exhorted us to “prepare the way of the Lord”. The third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete (“Rejoice!”) Sunday, which provides a break midway through this season which is otherwise of a somber nature, and signifies the nearness of the Lord’s coming. While the liturgy all throughout Advent is one of intense expectation and preparation, we take a break to remind us that this season is one of joyful anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.
True, we are all facing different challenges and concerns in our day-to-day living but the Lord reminds us to rejoice:
“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.” (Zep 3:14-18a)
Realizing fully this promise is made by God, we ask just like what the people of St. John the Baptist’s time asked, “What then should we do?” We should examine how we are in our earthly pilgrimage; we take moments to reflect deep into our hearts. We know that this is relevant because the promise isn’t made by an ordinary mortal like us but by the Supreme God Himself. For sure, without our cooperation in this plan of salvation, we won’t be able to claim His promise.
St. John the Baptist’s call to repentance didn’t talk about religion, nor about fulfilling certain rituals. What he was preaching was practical and clear: we are asked to share, not to exploit others, and not to mistreat others and “be content with your pay.” Thus, we are reminded that rejoicing doesn’t mean being greedy and excessive, not to steal from others, and not to be abusive with others. Oftentimes we see people being ecstatic and jubilant when they worship but when their faith is tested, they often give way to indifference and apathy. They think that their faith is enough without allowing themselves to be used as instruments of God’s goodness and compassion. They aren’t willing to undergo pain and suffering even for those they love. And yet God asks us to go beyond those we know and the familiar!
Reflect today then on what you should do to be worthy of the Messiah’s promises. While it’s true nobody can ever claim to be worthy of such, this attitude of humility will make you embrace the faith that only through God’s grace can you be allowed into His presence at the end of time. We have to act on our faith and show others how much God loves them. Let us be mindful of those who are in need this Christmas. For now, let us cherish the idea that His redemption is near, it is time to rejoice and not fear.
‘Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.’ (Is. 12: 6)