for Sunday, December 16, 2018
The joy of Advent! And, a hidden fee. The joy that come into our hearts as we think of God becoming a baby in order to save us from ourselves and from all that is evil. The latter part of that wonderful gift, the saving us from all that is evil, requires us to repent. Have you ever received in the mail or through social media or the internet an offer whereby you have received a $1000 gift card or 50% savings on future purchases at a department store or online business? Especially at this time of the year. Well, this gimmick comes with a hidden fee: consumers have to purchase a certain amount of goods and services before the "free stuff" is honored. Jesus Christ is not a gimmick. His gift to us of Himself born of the Virgin Mary is real and mysteriously incomprehensible. But, He asks of us to repent in order to get the full benefit of the gift.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Zephaniah and expresses how God struggled with the Chosen People, our ancestors in the faith, and occasionally won their return to Him. God's gift to the Chosen People was not fully received because they were not willing to do their part by being loyal. Marketers do the same thing with credit cards and airline travel, "Be loyal to us and we will give you rewards." This commercial strategy is remotely similar, but we Christians know that the rewards God urgently wants to offer us, at any moment in time, are unimaginably wonderful and rich.
The second reading from the Letter to the Philippians reminds us that God is always near to us, ready to give us the gift of Himself. God is with us and seeks us out and forgives us… for this we turn to Him, the small fee. We can hear these words repeated in our hearts: the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Christians, let's get excited!
Saint Luke's Gospel provides an active portrait of John the Baptist preaching the Good News to the people. Good news! God's good news of salvation for us! John the Baptist responds to the seekers of God curious to know how to "claim" the free gift of God's love. Yes, you have it offered to you, but to fully possess the joy of the gift, you must repent. Turn away from thoughts, words, and deeds that contradict God's love for us and others. Live honestly, love one another tenderly, and walk humbly with God.
The challenge of Advent every year is this: Are we ready to go all the way to claim this wonderful, free gift from God? He will continue to seek us throughout our lives. No matter how often we turn from Him, He will be there with us with His love. Therefore, let us rush, and not tarry, to redeem this wonderful offer from God! His Son: The Redeemer.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Zephaniah 3.14-18a
Second Reading: Philippians 4.4-7
Gospel: Luke 3.10-18
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: