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Today’s readings
Zephaniah 3:14-18
Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18

December 13, 2009

Today’s readings from the Old Testament have our two theme verses for last year and this year. For 2008 we had Zephaniah 3:17. For 2009 we have Isaiah 12:2. God is consistent in speaking to us, and today, as we are about to end this year (we have already started the new liturgical year), God continues to point us in the way we are to go.

We are now in the season of Advent, when we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. What characterizes this season is joy and peace. It is a time of celebration, and it is a time of renewing and maintaining right relationships with our fellowmen. The angel announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds by saying: “I proclaim to you good news of great joy” (Lk 2:10). The heavens with all the angels responded, praising and giving glory to God, saying that there would be “on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Lk 2:14).

Because of the coming of Jesus, our lives are to be characterized by joy and peace. Thus Paul told the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). As we turn to God, “then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7).

What is common to the first three readings is the element of joy. “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! sing joyfully, O Israel!” (Zep 3:14a). “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation” (Is 12:3). Such joy is simply the product of the coming of the savior. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior” (Zep 3:17a). “God indeed is my savior” (Is 12:2a).

How about peace? Jesus is the prince of peace, and he came proclaiming peace. But even though Jesus has already won for us our salvation, there is still no peace. What we see in the world today is conflict, injustice, oppression, and great affliction. Peace is still something that needs to happen.

How can there be peace on earth? The key is Jesus the savior.

God has already done His part. Now the rest is up to us, those whom He calls upon to proclaim this good news of salvation in Jesus through the cross. Our task is this: “among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name.” (Is 12:4b). Jesus has brought us salvation. We are to “sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievement” (Is 12:5a), and we are to “let this be known throughout all the earth.” (Is 12:5b). In other words, we are to do the work of worldwide evangelization.

Evangelizers are those who prepare the way of the Lord. Such a one was John the Baptist. John preached repentance for sin. Then he pointed out the proper response of one who has repented, and that is, to do justice to others -- sharing what we have with others, not taking more than what is due to us, not robbing others of their goods or their good name, being satisfied with what God has provided (Lk 3:10-14).

If people accept Jesus and call on his name, if they do justice to their neighbor, then there will be peace on earth.

John was an evangelizer who prepared the way for Jesus. John “preached good news to the people.” (Lk 3:18). Such is our task as well.

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