What Should We Do?
3rd Sunday of Advent (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Today is Gaudete Sunday or the Sunday of rejoicing. In the traditional rubrics, the pink or rose-colored candle is lighted today, signifying that we are getting closer to Christmas. As St. Paul reminds the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (1 Phil. 4:4). The same invitation to rejoice is contained in the first reading. Even in the midst of difficulties and misfortunes, the Jewish people were buoyed by the messianic expectations, “Fear not O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord your God is in your midst” (Zeph. 3:16).

The situation of the Jewish people and the early communities of Christian believers to whom these messages were addressed was far from being idyllic. They were living in times of religious persecution. There was political unrest. The great majority of people were living in poverty. The environment was unsafe and the people felt insecure. What was there to rejoice about?

Paul’s call to rejoice is qualified by the phrase “in the Lord”. Rejoice in the Lord always. The Lord is the reason for rejoicing. The external environment may not be stable or harmonious, but still we rejoice. Rejoicing is founded in the faith that everything will be all right ultimately. All will be well. The Lord will triumph, justice will prevail and love will conquer all, “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). These are assurances that come from the wellspring of faith. It needs great faith for people who are experiencing tribulations to say, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

This message of hope was the content of John the Baptist’s message. Following the long line of prophets, he proclaimed the coming of the messiah. A new age was dawning and they had to prepare for it. For this reason, people of various persuasions were asking the same question, “What then should we do?” John the Baptist challenged them to change their attitude and behavior. “Share your coat and your food,” he told the crowd. He reminded the tax collectors not to collect more than what was prescribed. He told the soldiers not to be abusive of their power. The coming of the Kingdom demands a new way of living.

We should be asking ourselves the same question. What should we do? If we truly believe that Jesus who has come among us has inaugurated a new age, and that He will come again to bring all things to their final destiny, then there should be changes in the way we live. We have a new perspective about life. We go about our daily preoccupations and our human responsibilities with the conviction that God orders events toward His plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit inspires and directs our human activities toward their divine fulfillment. We are cooperators in God’s plan.

This advent season, we pray like the early disciples, “Maranatha, come Lord. Reign over us. Let your Kingdom come.” We do what we humanly can in cooperation with God’s plan. And let us not forget, times may be hard but we rejoice in the Lord.