Homily 3rd Sunday Advent Year C – I want you to be happy.

Homily (Sermon) – I want you to be happy

The Readings for Sunday 16th December 2012 or Third Sunday of Advent Year C:
Zephaniah 3:14-18
Psalm - Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

Advent is a time of preparation, a time to reflect on our lives, a time to make the changes Christ would want us to make, a time to look forward with hope, with joy to the coming of our Lord. Today is a special day in advent, known as Gaudete Sunday, and Gaudete means rejoice.  Today in our advent preparation it’s a time to rejoice, we rejoice because we know the miracle that is about to happen, we know that Christ came into our world at Christmas; we know that through his death on the cross He paid the price for our sins. We know that if we turn to him with a penitent heart, he will look lovingly at us and welcome us into His Kingdom. Today with that knowledge it is time to rejoice.

In today’s readings we hear some wonderful lessons. In our Gospel reading we hear John the Baptist teaching in the desert. People are coming from miles around to hear him; they are excited and want to know what they must do to be saved. John is trying to make sure that the people are ready for Jesus when He comes; he is preparing them, teaching them. That’s why we hear a lot from John during Advent, as we too are preparing to meet Christ.

John talks about sharing, of giving, of looking after each other. If you have two coats and you see someone with no coat, give them yours. If you have food and you see someone going hungry feed them. These are simple instructions, yet we only need to look at a paper or the news on the TV to know that people around the world are starving. Much closer to home there are people living on the streets in Bristol, with only the clothes they have on and they have no idea where their next meal will come from.

John is giving a clear example of the message Christ was to give. Love your neighbour as yourself. For us to follow that commandment is both a joy and a challenge. When we do something for someone else we normally feel good about it, we feel the joy of giving, and that feeling is the joy of Christ in our hearts.
It’s also challenging, to give and keep giving when you feel you often have little yourselves. We need to develop a giving heart, we need to give of our possessions, our time and our love. We need to really care for those we give to, rather than give to those we care for. The distinction is huge, we are asked to care for everyone, to look out for their needs, to love them as we would like to be loved ourselves.

The result of this kind of caring is what Paul was talking about when he wrote to the Philippians. We should take great hope and rejoice in his opening line.

“I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.”

A caring heart, a heart that loves God, a heart that loves its neighbour, a heart that just loves, that is the path to happiness. There will be disappointments, there will be worries, there will be things you don’t have that you need. Paul’s message is clear here as well, just talk to God about this, and ask Him to help, pray honestly and thankfully. Know that He loves you so much that on the first Christmas night He came Himself into this world so that we could be freed from sin.

Christmas is only a few nights away. It’s time to prepare. It time to care for the people around us. It’s time to rejoice.

Gaudete my brothers, Gaudete my sisters, Christ is coming.

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