THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT – C
Today is GAUDETE SUNDAY, a day of rejoicing!
There are many creative ways to spend the time while waiting for a person or an event. We can be romantic and enjoy daydreaming while anticipating the arrival of a special someone. It is the interior aspect that caters to the emotions and feelings of the person in waiting. We can also be busy in external preparations like physical arrangements and decorations. It is the exterior aspect that occupies our attention most of the time.
Advent is a different waiting! It is sacramental! It is more than a cosmic time when we commemorate a past even like birthdays or anniversaries. It is rather a liturgical season that opens a holy door that beckons us to enter into kairos, a sacred time of grace. After entering this door, like the people asking John the Baptist in the gospel this Sunday, we also ask WHAT SHALL WE DO?
First of all, the call to holiness is universal as Vatican II teaches us; it permeates the different strata of our society. Discipleship is the call to holiness within the secular or religious lives that we have chosen as long as we follow the gospel value of Jesus.
Secondly, the voice of John the Baptist is not only heard during Advent although it becomes more relevant during this season when we stop in our life’s journey like a spiritual retreat in order to evaluate our value system before we step further on. Because conversion is a continuous call, like a journey, it will always be an on-going process of transcending the old self towards a better way of living. It is like a pulsating energy that draws us closer to perfection. If this is true, then conversion is not just about feeling good, not even being “spiritually high” but something that we work on even after having done something good.
Holiness is not just limited in the confines of the church, it permeates through the ordinariness of our secular lives beyond piety. It is the “holiness of the gutter” hardly found in the forgotten peripheries of life! We tend to forget it because it is too ordinary! What shall we do while waiting? We do things right and just in all the strata of our being. Goodness is diffusive because it is a vestige of the pulsating Ultimate Good that seeks expression in the holiness of the ordinary. Because of this, we can all be saints in the eyes of God only if we are able to live the way God wants us to be.
Later on Jesus would be praising John Baptist by saying “No man born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist…” and yet the greatness of John the Baptist did not get into his head. He knew his place and would not grab the opportunity of self-canonization: “I am not worthy to untie his sandals…” John the Baptist is the perfect example of Christian humility. He acknowledges his prophetic mission but he puts Jesus in the centre of things. He gives a lesson most especially to people who are given more opportunities in life: the higher we go up in the ladder, the smaller we become for those who are below us. We may call this as “diminutive spirituality.” We do not become bigger than others just because we have more in life. On the other hand we do not falsely accuse ourselves of being close to nothing simply because we are at the base of the ladder. The self should never be the standard to measure up things. Jesus should be the centre which is the ultimate criterion by which someone or something is judged or recognized.
If we are able to do things right and just, we can truly rejoice because we are emerging ourselves into the resemblance of Christ.