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.”
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
A friend of mine refers to Advent as a season of “joyful expectation.” Older Catholics remember this Third Sunday as “Gaudete Sunday” from the Latin word for joy. In times past, rose-colored vestments were worn in church today.
Our first and second readings carry the theme of joy, but then the Gospel is all business. John the Baptist is dispensing advice to various groups who come to see him. The Gospel names two of them: tax collectors and soldiers. John advises them to carry out their daily duties with justice.
I suppose that if those two professions in Jesus’ time made a radical change in their way of doing business, it would be a cause for joy! Tax collectors were universally despised and soldiers represented the might of the Roman occupation.
Luke wants to show us that change was in the air. The coming of Jesus would transform all of human life. That was good news indeed.
What would bring us joy today? An end to terrorists’ threats? Conversion in the corporate world from greed and personal gain? A new spirit of generosity and service in people’s everyday lives?
Paul urges the Philippians to be joyful because “God is near.” That very presence of God ought to be our focus, because that would help us with the other things that need changing.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In this week’s first reading (Zep 3:14-18a), the prophet’s message is full of hope. Can you give the reason why?
He says that “The Lord has removed the judgment against you.” What was that judgment?
In the second reading (Phil 4:4-7), Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” What reason does Paul give for telling the people in Phillipi to rejoice?
Why do we read this message from Paul during Advent?
According to the Gospel (Lk 3:10-18), John the Baptist has a message for each group that comes to see him. Can you name at least two of those groups and the message John gives to each one?
What did some of the people think about John the Baptist?
What answer did John give to those who asked whether he was the Messiah?
In the spirit of today’s Gospel reading, go through your clothes and collect anything that you can donate. Take the clothes to a shelter or charity organization, such as St. Vincent de Paul.
Volunteer at a local food pantry or sign up to work serving meals at a shelter. You could also organize a canned food drive at your school or parish.