Third Sunday of Advent, Year C

Lk 3: 10 – 18

Prayer before praying Scripture

Father you wait for us until we are open to you. We wait for your Word to make us receptive. Attune us to your voice, to your silence, speak and bring your Son to us – Jesus – the Word of your peace.

Let us pause for a few moments just to quieten ourselves down. Breathe slowly savouring the breath of life. Allow your mind to gently empty of the cares and chores of the day.  Sit up straight – enter into your own silence.

Now we are ready to read today’s gospel. Read it slowly and out loud. Having read it once let us read it again and again slowly letting the words filter into our being.

Three parts may begin to stand out for you.

10When all the people asked John, “What must we do?”

15 A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ,

things he said to exhort the people and announce the Good News to them.

When John commenced his mission the whole of Israel was filled with excitement. There had been no prophets in Israel for the past 300 years and now, suddenly, a great prophet had walked onto the scene. Surely God’s silence had come to an end. Surely God was visiting his people. We too should be filled with excitement. The Word, Jesus, is with us all days even to the end of time.

Our reading opens with “What must we do?” This will be asked three times. The same question is in our minds. The answer is the “Good News”, which we find at the close of this reading.

Indeed, John’s message, verses 10 – 14 is Good News.

“If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none.

The one who has something to eat must do the same (share with the man who has none.)

13He said to them, “Exact no more than your rate.”

He said to them, “No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!”

Here we have the essence of Jesus message.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free.” Lk 4: 18

The incident that leads to the telling of the parable of the Good Samaritan carries this same message.

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answered,

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your being, and your neighbour as yourself.   This is Good News.

The gifts of this reading continue to be showered upon us in the second half.

“he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

We are assured that God remains active in our lives. God loves us and God wants the very best for us.

17His 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 in a fire that will never go out.”

At first glance this seems not to be good news. Yes, God is constantly at work in our lives.  God separates the chaff of our lives from all the good that we do. God clears our shortcomings away and they are no more.

We are baptised with the fire of the love of God. We are fired up with the excitement that a deep relationship with God gives us. We are determined to live out lives according to the maxim,

Love God and Love Neighbour and Love Yourself.

“You have been told, O man, what is good,

and what the Lord asks of you;

to act justly,

to love tenderly,

and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6: 8

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