Third Sunday of Advent (C) December 13, 2009 Gaudete Sunday

Engaging Faith | Fri, Dec 4, 2009

By Fr. John Bucki, S.J.

Third Sunday of Advent (C) December 13, 2009  Gaudete Sunday
[Gaudete is the Latin word for "rejoice," the first word of the entrance antiphon, taken from today's second reading.]

Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18


December  7 - 18: United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen
December 10: Human Rights Day
December 11: Chanukah begins at sunset. (Judaism)
December 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 15: Bill of Rights Day (US)
December 18: International Migrants Day


The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts.
--Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 1

Being a Christian has never been easy, nor is it easy today. Following Christ demands the courage of radical choices, which often means going against the stream. "We are Christ!” St Augustine exclaimed.
--John Paul II, 26 November 2000

The present situation of the world, from the point of view of development, offers a rather negative impression. … Without going into an analysis of figures and statistics, it is sufficient to face squarely the reality of an innumerable multitude of people--children, adults and the elderly in other words, real and unique human persons, who are suffering under the intolerable burden of poverty. There are many millions who are deprived of hope due to the fact that, in many parts of the world, their situation has noticeably worsened. Before these tragedies of total indigence and need, in which so many of our brothers and sisters are living, it is the Lord Jesus himself who comes to question us (cf. Mt 25: 31-46).
--John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 13

The dignity of the individual and the demands of justice require, particularly today, that economic choices do not cause disparities in wealth to increase in an excessive and morally unacceptable manner[83], and that we continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone.
--Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 32
Thoughts for your consideration:

The first two readings are full of joy and hope. Then, in the gospel, John the Baptist seems to be placing very demanding expectations before the people of his day. In different ways, he invites different people to make changes in their lives. He gets very explicit.  He challenges people.

We might hear all this with a certain dread as we think about making radical changes in our lives and in our world. We might dread giving up things or doing things in a new way. We might feel resistance to change. We might dread taking stands that some of our friend and neighbors will not accept. However, we should not forget the tone of joy and hope that is found in the first two readings. Maybe the change we are called to is not something to dread or fear, but something that will lead us and the world community to freedom and life. Maybe the challenges of our social teaching are more than a burden.  Maybe they can be a source of joy and freedom.

The demanding social teaching of the church can seem to be a heavy obligation.  However, the radical call of Jesus and the demands of justice are not only a burden but also a source of freedom and joy. It is a gift that can set us free and bless the world.

To let go of the demands of our consumer culture can let us relax and be ourselves. To let go of our tendency to worry about public opinion can give us the strength to speak up with courage.  To let go of our violence toward others, can give us the freedom to be loving human persons.  To let go of the expense of a large military budget, can allow us to spend money to promote human values.  To let go of our fear can allow us to ask good questions.

Questions for your faith sharing group:

  • John the Baptist offers answers to the question “What shall we do?” as it is asked by the people, by tax collectors, and by soldiers. 
  • What answer would he give to people today who ask (parents, children, poor people, rich people, middle class people, bankers, stock brokers, business executives, factory workers, the unemployed, soldiers, political leaders, women, men, the elderly, children, lawyers, doctors, people with our health insurance, etc.)?

Actions – Links

Climate Change
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is taking place from December 7 to 18.  Catholic Social Teaching calls for us to care for the environment.  The Bishop’s website makes available links to lots of Catholic resources at
Faithful Stewards of God's Creation:
A Catholic Resource for Environmental Justice and Climate Change
As people of Faith, we are convinced that "the earth is the Lord's and all it holds….We believe our response to global climate change should be a sign of our respect for God's creation. (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, US Catholic Bishops, 2001)

International Migrants Day
“December 18 is a Brussels-based non-profit organization working for the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants worldwide. The name of the organization refers to the day when the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the “International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families”. Today, the 18th of December is also known as International Migrants Day.”

“Crazy facts”

The relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentration and surface temperature is shown here for the past 150 years. It is taken from Find more facts and figures at
Prayers of Intercession:

Response: God, help us make room for peace and justice.
As leaders gather at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, may they be blessed with the freedom, courage and wisdom to make the difficult decisions that are necessary, we pray….
As we approach International Immigrants Day, may we be blessed with the wisdom and love to welcome those who are searching for a new home and community, we pray….
As we have celebrated Human Rights Day this week, may we be blessed with a renewed dedication to guarantee the human rights of all people, we pray….
As we have just celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may we continue to share a faith that learns from and welcomes all the people of the Americas, we pray….
As we move toward Christmas, may our preparations be free from the tyranny of consumerism and the commercial culture and open to the vision and challenge and joy of Jesus Christ, we pray….
As we move toward Christmas, may we make room for the Christ to be born again in our world, we pray….

Prayer Litany:

Sing aloud and shout...
          with only eight more days to shop?
Sing aloud and shout and rejoice with all your heart...
          that our Christmas cards are mailed and presents are wrapped?
Sing aloud and shout for joy for the Lord has taken away the judgments against you...
          for the fruits of repentance are radical generosity and faithfulness.
Sing and shout, rejoice and proclaim good news to all...
          Let us bear the fruit of our baptism—in trusting our lives to God completely,
     let us bear the fruit of our baptism—haring our resources, our time and talents,
our very selves with the world,
          and let us bear the fruit of our baptism—as the Spirit ignites our hearts with love.

We light three candles on the wreath.
          The first reminds us to watch and to proclaim justice and peace.
             The second calls us to prepare.
                      The third candle invites us to dare.
     To let this light shine upon all the darkness within
          and turn around to follow God's love again.
Let us sing, shout, and be joy-filled people,
          sharing the good news from rooftops and steeples,
until all nations know that they are loved by God and God’s people.

Breath of Life, shine your light into our hearts. Help us to be faith-filled as we live with one another. Forgive us for the hurts we caused by words and deeds. And may we be a forgiving light to those who have hurt us.  Amen.
Taken from

--Lectionary Reflection by Fr. John Bucki, S.J.