Reflection for Third Sunday of Advent

        God’s people had a deep desire for the presence of the Messiah. When John the Baptist be gan to proclaim, ” the Lord is near, ” and ” make ready the way of the Lord. ” the anticipation of the people grew and their desire expanded. They wanted to do something to prepare for the co of the Messiah. They wanted direction from John the Baptist. Common folk, tax collectors, and soldiers alike asked, ” what we are to do?” or ” what ought we to do?”
             John goes right to the heart of the matter and says that we are to live the word of God. John makes no bones about it. He used strong  words, ones which demand action: Give one of your coats or some of your food to those who have none; do not take more than is rightfully yours; don’t bully; denounce no one falsely; and be content. Active waiting for the Messiah meant concrete actions from the people, desire had to be transformed into action.
         Saint Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, extends the same theme of active  preparation with his list: Dismiss all anxiety; present your needs with gratitude; rejoice! We can see that Paul equates active preparation with the coming of the Lord when he says,” should see how unselfish you are. The Lord himself is near. ”  if everyone truly desired to prepare for the coming of Christ, if everyone was moved beyond desire to action, the world would feel the closeness of God.
         In order to fully celebrate Advent, each of us must be filled with desire for the presence of Christ. Our desire must be of such depth that we are moved to ask: “What am I to do?” All of the Advent proclamations of Scripture are but words, all of our hearing is but an empty frolic with nice concepts, if we fail to be moved to do something about it. Advent should not only make us desire Christ, but equally move us to do something to prepare for his coming.
        What would John the Baptist say personally to each of us if we asked him what we ought to do? Probably something like this: As a laborer, ” Be kind and supportive to your coworkers . Be responsible in your job.” As one in the medical field,”” Be compassionate to the sick and their relatives.” As one in authority, ” serve with humility and gentleness.” As students and children, ” Respect your  teachers and parents, “Spend time with your children. Teach them about God and Christian values. Be a good example.” No matter what one’s state in life, there is a ” spiritual list” by which to prepare for the coming of Christ.
       The atmosphere of this Advent season is filled with desire. It is not unlike the atmosphere which graced the world in the time of John the Baptist . At the top of all our wish lists should be, ” Prepare my heart for the coming of Christ.” It must be a desire that runs so deep that we are forced to ask,” Lord, what am I to do?”, and then do it.
God bless you all,
Fr. Dominic
Your brother in Christ,