The third Sunday of Advent is known as “Gaudete Sunday” or Sunday of Joy.
The prophet Zephaniah says that God is coming in our midst; that God will rejoice over us and will renew us in his love. That’s a different take as we normally think of our joy in welcoming the Lord. Today’s Gospel speaks of this expected coming of God as proclaimed by John the Baptist.
After having heard what John had to say, his hearers asked a very sensible question: “What must we do, then?” John answers in terms of social justice but he is aware that his answer is not sufficient. Preparing requires a renewal that must happen interiorly, by the grace of God. Renewal can only come through receiving the cleansing fire of God’s Love through the sacraments.
Love is fire: it destroys anything that hinders the possession of its beloved object of desire. In this way God’s Love purifies our hearts, devouring all not of God and removing all sin. At the same time our hearts are healed and made ready for regrowth. Think of the beautiful regrowth only possible after a bush fire. Vibrant new life that springs up only after such devastation. The same with our hearts that are devoured by the purifying flame of God’s Love.
After having heard what John had to say, his hearers asked a very sensible question: What must we do to prepare? Naturally this leads us to ask of ourselves: What must we do to prepare for the coming of Jesus once again this Christmas? Practice justice is one very good answer, but the best answer admits that we need God’s help.
The best preparation is to return to the source of our inner renewal. We do this now by remembering the day of our baptism and by revisiting the promises made. May we commit to those promises once again so that the divine life which God gave us is kept safe from the poison of sin to grow always stronger in our hearts.
Let us stand.
By water and the Holy Spirit you received the gift of new life from God, who is love.
You must make it your constant care to practice your faith so that the divine life which God gave you is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in your heart.
If your faith makes you ready to renew this responsibility, renew now the vows of your baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus.
Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God's children?
Do you reject the glamor of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?
Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.