December 16, 2018 — Third Sunday of Advent
We have arrived at Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete is the Latin word for “rejoice”) this Third Week of Advent, and the Scriptures take on a joyful tone as we continue our preparations for the feast of our Savior’s birth.
Our Second Reading gives us cause for joy as St Paul reminds us, “The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all….” Then he gives us a prescription for maintaining this peace: “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s instructions for obtaining peace come as an early Christmas gift. They remind us that we can and should go to God with all our needs and present them to Him along with our thanks. This guidance calls to mind a vital aspect of a stewardship way of life: gratitude to God in response to His great love and countless gifts to us.
The Gospel passage, from Luke, shows us how to live out this thanks, making our lives a “Christmas gift” to Christ in joyful response to His love for us. When the crowds hear John the Baptist’s message that their Savior is coming, they ask him what they should do to prepare. He responds, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do the same.” He tells tax collectors to stop collecting more than is prescribed and soldiers, to be satisfied with their wages. In other words, he tells them to be good and generous stewards of all God’s gifts to them!
As the great feast of Christmas draws near, let us rejoice in Christ’s extravagant love. Let’s avail ourselves of the peace He longs to give us. And let’s look carefully at our lives to make sure we are indeed making of them a gift fitting for Him.