As we could see in the Gospel for this Sunday the people who heard the Word of God announced by the Baptist were cut to the heart. The Word of God aroused in them a desire to do what would be pleasing to God. 'What must we do?' was an articulation of the growing desire to live according to God's ways. The conversion which was happening in them began creating of them a community of believers.
Sin always divides people. Sin is never private, even if apart of God and me no one knows my sin. It still brings a deep division to communities. Last week I spoke of the great abyss the first people fixed between them and God when they went against God, when they believed Satan's word rather than the Word of God. However the Book of Genesis reveals that it wasn't the only gulf they had created. There was a gulf between them as well. They started blaming each other. The loving and trusting relationship they enjoyed with God was the origin of the loving and trusting relationship with each other. When they compromised their relationship with God it shattered their relationship with each other.
When the Word of God comes to us it brings about conversion but it also brings about unity and reconciliation. First between the sinner and God.
Secondly between sinners. It is not solidarity in sinning but solidarity in a humble common perception of our sinful condition and in appreciation and celebration of our identity as sons and daughters of God which puts our sinfulness in the perspective which is the merciful love of God. It assures us that God, as our Father, is committed and determined to raise us up from sin and death like he did with Jesus Christ when our Blessed Lord took upon himself our sins with all their deadly consequences. God raised him up.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Third Sunday of Advent is called the Sunday of Joy. What would you identify today as a reason for you to be joyful? What would be behind your 'crying out with joy and gladness' ? ... Let me put it this way? Does your rejoicing come from things that happen to you or from good things that happen to others? Look at the prophet of this Sunday of Joy, St John the Baptist, who didn’t get thrilled because he had attracted so many people. His joy was triggered because, as he said: ‘someone is coming, someone who is powerful that I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals.’ One of the disciples of the Baptist, St John the Apostle, who prompted by the testimony of his first mentor followed Jesus Christ, wrote what he heard from the Prophet from the Jordan: ‘The bride is for the bridegroom; and yet the bridegroom’s friend is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This same joy I feel now it is complete. He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.’
John preached repentance because he had been repented. His ego didn’t search for appreciation and validation. To be joyful he didn’t look into the mirror but he looked at the people who came to him. His teaching invited people to do the same. The urging he gave to the tax collectors and soldiers was about getting those people out of their self-absorbed, and thus destructive, pursuit of their needs. The Baptist, whose life was a gift to others, was inviting those who approaching him to do the same.
‘What must we do?’ we may ask today. We are not tax collectors. We are not soldiers. It is true we may not be these people but still there are people around us to whom God wants to give us as a permanent Christmas gift. Have faith and courage my fellow believers to be a gift to others and then you will be filled with joy of the Holy Spirit, who is happy to be the gift of the Father to the Son and the gift of the Son to the Father. He is also their gift to us. He is happy to be a gift that inspires our gratitude for the Father and the Son. He is a selfless person. That a secret of joy and happiness.