Sunday December 12, 2021. Third Sunday in Advent

Sunday, December 12 2021
Third Sunday of Advent

1st Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18

Jerusalem rejoices because salvation is near and God himself will protect his people

Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear,
O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.

Responsorial: Isaiah 12:2-6

R./: Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. (R./)

Give thanks to the Lord,
give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
Declare the greatness of his name. (R./)

Sing a psalm to the Lord for he has done glorious deeds,
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. (R./)

2nd Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord, be free of anxiety and live in a spirit of prayer and thanksgiving

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Luke 3:10-18

John the Baptist urges various groups of people to works of justice and charity

And the crowds asked John, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John , whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Communicating Joy

The lead-up to Christmas has a sense of happy anticipation, an excitement matched in today’s readings. We are invited to a truly joyful proclamation of the Good News. About The Joy of the Gospel, pope Francis wrote:

One cannot but admire the resources that the Lord used to dialogue with his people, to reveal his mystery to all and to attract ordinary people by his lofty teachings and demands. I believe that the secret lies in the way Jesus looked at people, seeing beyond their weaknesses and failings: “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32); Jesus preaches with that spirit. Full of joy in the Spirit, he blesses the Father who draws the little ones to him: “I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Lk 10:21). The Lord enjoys talking with his people; preachers should try to communicate that same joy to his listeners.

An Advent examen (from The Pilgrim’s Almanac, by Edward Hays):

“Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place. Daily we can make an Advent examination. Are there any feelings of discrimination toward race, sex, or religion? Is there a lingering resentment, an unforgiven injury living in our hearts? Do we look down upon others of lesser social standing or educational achievement? Are we generous with the gifts that have been given to us, seeing ourselves as their stewards and not their owners? Are we reverent of others, their ideas and needs, and of creation? These and other questions become Advent lights by which we may search the deep, dark corners of our hearts.”

Gaudete Sunday

This Third Sunday in Advent is full of comfort and joy. In our Latin past it was called “Gaudete Sunday,” (gaudete meaning rejoice.) The liturgy bids us be happy, not to worry, for the Lord is near. And if we want the peace of God in our hearts, that peace will be ours, if we ask God for it. St Paul says, “There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving.” He tells us not to wait until after God has granted our requests before saying thanks. Even as we ask, we should be giving thanks. One of the things to thank God for at the end of this year is all the good done by so many good people in our time.

Wherever there is evil, God will see that brave, resolute souls rise up to combat it. Such was the work done by St John the Baptist, as described by St Luke. People were prepared to walk all the way from Jerusalem down to near Jericho in the deep Jordan valley, on the edge of the desert — all of fifteen miles each way — in order to see John, this charismatic figure living as an ascetic in the desert around the Dead Sea. Having heard him, many stayed to be baptised by him. But they were full of the uncertainty that can surface in all of us if we take time to cast a critical eye on the kind of life we are leading.

“What must we do?” they asked him; and John spelled out his answer in no uncertain terms. While their request showed their willingness to change, it also showed that they were lacking in clear insight about what is right human behaviour. “Love and do what you will,” was to be the motto of St Augustine, meaning that if people have total inner commitment to God, then they will be incapable of doing wrong, they will know instinctively what is right from the promptings of the Spirit within them.

John the Baptist tried to change his listeners’ hearts by telling them not to be grasping, not to take from others more than a just return for services rendered, but rather to help those in need. “If anyone has two cloaks, he must share with the man who has none.” “Give your blood,” the ancient monks in the desert used to say, “and you will possess the Spirit.” The society to which John was addressing himself — as indeed Jesus did later — was to collapse because of its lack of spiritual depth, its over concern with externals, as evidenced by the Pharisees, its pursuit of a narrow-minded nationalism, as seen in the Zealots who resorted to violence and assassination in their hatred of the Romans.

The greatest danger to the continuation of any society becomes a reality when most of its members become motivated by selfish concerns, greed and covetousness. The message that our own society invariably highlights is not, alas, that of sharing cloaks, but of wearing outfits that are better, more comfortable, more in keeping with the size of one’s pay differential. The sad thing is that all this unbridled seeking for earthly comforts, this concern with the cares of life, pulls us further and further away from the yearning for himself, that God has placed within all of us. It turns us away from the things of the Spirit, and from the pursuit of religious idealism. Prayerfully then, and in the presence of God, let us give thanks to the Father in this Mass, for the gift of his divine Son, who in its celebration makes us one with himself. Let us ask for the peace of God, as Sacred scripture urges us, for that abiding peace which is so much greater than we can ever understand, so much greater than anything this world can ever offer us. And we can be assured that for all who faithfully do this the reward will be everlasting.



  1. Joe O'Leary says:

    Sunday December 12 – Third Sunday in Advent…

    What an unexpected command: ‘and again I say, Rejoice!’

    Usually we come crawling before the Lord in need and guilt, but He says to us, ‘Stand up, and rejoice!’ We singled out the seven Penitential Psalms as particularly important, but there are many more psalms that enable us to shout and sing in praise of God and his beautiful creation. Praise, not lamentation, is the basic tone.

    Our morose and worried faces prompted Nietzsche’s mockery: these people do not look redeemed. ‘Redemption was for Nietzsche not a deliverance from sin, but a total affirmation of life, with all its pain, suffering and absurdity’ (Eva Cybulska). Rilke, who inherited Nietzsche’s girlfriend Lou Andreas-Salome, also took this up in a famous poem just a century ago, in December 1921:

    Oh speak, poet, what do you do?
    –I praise.
    But the monstrosities and the murderous days,
    how do you endure them, how do you take them?
    –I praise.
    But the anonymous, the nameless grays,
    how, poet, do you still invoke them?
    –I praise.
    What right have you, in all displays,
    in very mask, to be genuine?
    –I praise.
    And that the stillness and the turbulent sprays
    know you like star and storm?
    : –because I praise.

    Oh sage, Dichter, was du tust ?
    – Ich rühme.
    Aber das Tödliche und Ungestüme,
    wie hältst du’s aus, wie nimmst
    du’s hin ?
    – Ich rühme.
    Aber das Namenlose, Anonyme,
    wie rufst du’s, Dichter, dennoch an ?
    – Ich rühme.
    Woher dein Recht, in jeglichem
    Kostüme, in jeder Maske wahr zu sein ?
    – Ich rühme.
    Und daß das Stille und das Ungestüme
    wie Stern und Sturm dich kennen ?
    : – weil ich rühme.

    Not only Christmas, but Advent too, is an invitation to joy. Let not our Christian language of joy decay into drab formulas while our language of sin and guilt swells and festers. If we end the day with an act of contrition, let us at least begin it with praise. If Nietzscheans can find praise welling up in their souls, even though they thought God was dead, how much more should we, who know the living God of Israel, find joy to be the natural reaction to the miracle of each morning. Just use the words, and they will free up the springs of spontaneous praise:

    O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.

    Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms.

    For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods.

    In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also.

    The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land.

    Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker.

    For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

    Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen. (Ps 95:1-7 = the ‘Venite’ of Anglican Matins)

  2. Thara Benedicta says:

    Sunday 12 December 2021 Third Sunday in Advent…

    Key Message:

    God rejoices over us with loud singing!!


    Takeaway from the first reading:

    The most important takeaway from our first reading is “God exults over us with loud singing”. God is rejoicing over us with loud singing!!
    REALLY? Are we able to believe it. Are we feeling that we are making God unhappy because of our faults? When a small child wastes the milk prepared for her, does it make the parent hate the child? The parent knows that his/her child will do it. The parent will not be surprised by the faults or mistakes of the child.
    In the same way, our Father, God Almighty knows all the sins we will commit. Let us not wander around with a guilt feeling in our hearts. God has called us to live excited. Not to live with a feeling of guilt weighing us down always. Since God knows our weaknesses and the enemy’s temptations, He made a plan to redeem us from our sins even before we were born on this earth. Now 2000 years have passed since His plan of redeeming us from sin has been implemented.
    Isn’t it sufficient for us to be happy?
    Now the next beautiful part of this reading is, even though we are sinners, God rejoices over us with loud singing!!
    God is not mad at us because of our sins. Any time we go back to Him, He immediately forgives us and puts on us a gold ring like the Father of the prodigal son. He has said, “I do not want the sinner to die, but I want him to turn back and live”. He is waiting for us to turn back and come back to Him. His longing heart is always waiting for us. We all always have a place in our God’s loving heart. He has also allocated a guardian angel to take care of us individually. All the time the guardian angel is near us, praying for us continually. When we turn back like the prodigal son, our father will rejoice with loud singing!! Jesus has told that there will be great rejoicing in Heaven over one soul that turned back to God rather than ninety-nine righteous souls. During this rejoicing our Almighty Father will be loudly singing along with Mother Mary and the choirs of His angels and saints!!
    Let us hear the sweet songs of our Almighty Father rejoicing over us!!

    The takeaway from the second reading:
    There is a great model for us in the Bible who has exactly lived every word of today’s reading. It is our dear Mother Mary. Mother Mary was always gentle. When Mother Mary had to leave the comfort of her house and had to travel for long days on the back of a donkey during the advanced stages of pregnancy, instead of worrying she was rejoicing. When St. Joseph informed Mother Mary about the unexpected challenge, instead of worrying about how she would be able to travel at that stage, she just exclaimed, ‘Ho it is written that the Saviour will be born in Bethlehem’. Mother Mary encouraged St. Joseph and made his fears vanish (Referenced from the Poem of God-man). In the midst of the unbelievable challenge, there was a beautiful rejoicing in the family.
    In our daily lives too, instead of looking at our problems let us look at the face our dear Lord Jesus!!

    The takeaway from Gospel reading:
    “What should we do for preparing ourselves for the coming of the Lord?” – This was the direct question of the people to St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist was very clear in his answers – “Do your work correctly”.
    When government authorities asked the same question, he answered “Do not collect bribes”.
    When police and army people asked, he answered “Do not take money by threatening people or any false accusation. Be satisfied with your monthly pay”.
    In today’s world, God gives us the same instructions – “Do your work correctly” as we prepare for this Christmas!!

    Tips for doing the takeaways:
    Now we have more than John the Baptist in our hearts. We have the Holy Spirit who is living with us and guiding us whenever we need to be told explicitly what to do. Before the first coming of our Lord Jesus, people had to go to the wilderness and listen to John the Baptist, to prepare for the first coming of our Lord. After the first coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts, prepares us for the first coming’s celebrations and for His second coming too.
    God our Father will be longing to bless many people through us. Let us plead to His Holy Spirit to know God’s plans for us. Let us ask Him to teach us, what He wants us to do for others in this Christmas.

    Before the first coming of our Lord Jesus, people went to the wilderness to take the advice from John the Baptist and then reform their ways. Today God takes us through wilderness in our personal lives to enable us to listen to God’s words. When we are in our wilderness place in our personal lives, we tend to listen to God. Wilderness is a place where we do not have anyone but God!! When we are in that situation we listen to God’s words. The word of God directly impacts our lives. We can hear it loud and clear. So wilderness also is a place of blessings in our lives. After the wilderness experience comes the anointing place in our lives. After Jesus met John the Baptist, Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit. Hence, after adhering to the word of God in the wilderness, there will be a special anointing for us. Now this special anointing is a gift of God to us and will take us to places we have not tread earlier.

    The teachings of John the Baptist can be applied very well in our daily lives -> Do not cheat others, do not get a good name at the cost of false accusation of others, give the credit for other’s work, do your work to the best of your capabilities, go the extra mile and so on. Ultimately do not work only till your boss or people see you, work as our Almighty Father sees.

    Let God rejoice over our coming back to Him with loud singing and let us rejoice over His coming with loud singing!!

  3. Pádraig McCarthy says:

    Sunday Dec 12 – Third Sunday in Advent…

    Paul tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord, always – again I say: Rejoice!” Gaudete! It all sounds very idealistic, doesn’t it?
    But what is really extraordinary is what Zephaniah says. Yes, we are to rejoice. But even more: can we get our minds and hearts around the thought that Thara Benedicta (#2) above starts off with:
    “The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
    a warrior who gives victory;
    he will rejoice over you with gladness,
    he will renew you in his love;
    he will exult over you with loud singing
    as on a day of festival!”
    The second last line here in the Jerusalem Bible translation in the Lectionary is given as. “He will dance with shouts of joy for you!”

    The word “dance” is not in the Hebrew, but it seems to me to be a good “dynamic” way of conveying that our God rejoices over us with gladness and joy! The repetition reinforces the declaration. Imagine a dancer, dancing with every fibre of her or his being. Think Riverdance or any other moving picture of vitality that comes to mind. Could it possibly be true that the Lord our God dances with joy over me? What experience did Zephaniah have that inspired such a wild statement? What is there in my experience that could lead me to such an insight? When the love of another human being for me can so turn my life upside down, what must it be to know how our God sees me?
    This is the foundation which enables us to rejoice in the Lord always, because the Lord already rejoices in us.

    There’s more. Twice the reading says that the Lord your God is in your midst! What does that mean? It could be that God is in our midst as the people of God, like standing in the midst of a crowd. In this understanding, the word “your” is plural. In English, “your” can refer to a multitude or to a single person. But here, in Hebrew, the word is singular. In this sense then, God is “in the midst” of me, just like my heart and lungs and vital organs are within me. Like the child awaiting birth is within the mother.
    We might remember here that John the Baptist leapt for joy (danced!) in the womb of Elizabeth at the greeting of Mary.
    We might remember too that Jesus said (Luke 17:21), “the kingdom of God is within you.” Here “you” is plural, but the statement is definitely “within.” Many translations render it as “the kingdom of God is among you”, perhaps influenced by the fact that Jesus is replying to a question from some Pharisees who are typecast as bad, and so incapable of having the kingdom of God within them. But why should we presume that all Pharisees are bad? Nicodemus was a Pharisee, as was Paul. And why should it be impossible for the kingdom of God to be within a person who we judge to be “bad”?
    Realising that God rejoices over us with singing and dancing can surely transform our lives.

    Not that this means that we will have no sufferings or failings. Paul knew that. And yet he writes from prison: Rejoice in the Lord always! We can do this even in the midst of great suffering, and when mired in the mess we can make of our lives. Paul assures us, “that peace of God which is so much greater than we can understand will guard our hearts and thoughts in Christ Jesus.”
    It is for this that we have been baptised with the Holy Spirit and with fire. That fire can be stirred from a tiny spark to a power to set the world on fire. When we have become this, we are the Good News.
    “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!” (Luke 12: 29-50)

  4. James Gibson, C.R. says:


    I have always been mystified by Paul’s imperative: “Rejoice!”. How can you command someone to have joy? Yet I have discovered how deep is this Christian intuition.

    Many of us, especially children, are expecting joy and happiness when Christmas is here. Then why can’t we be joyful two weeks before? Joy lies not only in the longed-for fulfillment for which we prepare, but in the longing itself. If Christmas will be a joyful event, then preparing for Christmas will also be joyful…

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