We are God’s Instruments
Today we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent and it is also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” This name is taken from the entrance antiphon for Sunday’s Mass, which is also echoed in today’s second reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Some people mark this Sunday by lighting a pink candle instead of a purple one on their Advent wreath. It is a reminder that the Advent season is a season of joy because our salvation is already at hand.
This Sunday’s Gospel continues last week’s focus on John the Baptist and his role in preparing the way for Christ. In today’s Gospel reading, the crowds ask John the Baptist for specifics. What evidence of repentance is required? John replies by naming concrete actions: crowds should share their food and cloaks; tax collectors should be just; soldiers should act fairly. The concern for justice is a hallmark of Luke’s Gospel.
When the crowd begins to wonder if John the Baptist might be the Messiah, John interprets his baptism and makes it clear that his ministry is in preparation for the Messiah. John the Baptist knows his place and role in God’s plan of salvation. By encouraging the crowd to act similarly in accordance with their stations in life, John’s teaching suggests that each person has a role to play in God’s salvation. It is the great mystery of our salvation that God permits and even asks for human cooperation in his divine plans. Whatever we are – parents, teachers, civil servants, employers, doing business, self-employed – we need to remember that we are God’s instruments. Our aim is, like John the Baptist, to lead people to the feet of Jesus that they may know him personally as Saviour, Lord, Brother and Friend.