December 11, 2022 – Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121822.cfm)
Once after Eucharist, a man approached me and asked for an advice. He said, “Father, my daughter is engaged to her boyfriend. But it seems that the guy’s family does not approve of their relationship because they have learned that I am now unemployed. They thought that I am lazy and irresponsible parent to my daughter. You see, Father, I am a retired seaman. I subsist now from my pension and time-deposit I’ve earned. I just wish to spend the rest of my life with my family after long years of absence from them. I really love my daughter and only wish for her happiness. Father, is it a sin to be unemployed, and enjoy my own family? What shall I do, then?”
Like that man and John’s disciples in the gospel today, sometimes we become restless with life in anticipation for the Lord’s reign that we ask the practical question: “I believe that the Lord will come again, but what must I do, then?”
Yes, we believe that God so loves us that he gave his only begotten Son for our salvation. He has been good to us and continually showers us His love and blessings. But as faith necessitates actions, “what is the right thing to do then? What does God require and demand of us then?”
If we reflect deeper on our readings today, we see that like any parents, God desires nothing much from us but our happiness. He simply wished us our happiness in our relationship with Him. As what He said to restless disciples of John, “Go and report what you see and heard here,” meaning, Jesus wants us to see for ourselves and enjoy the great things happening and what God is doing here and now. As God shares to us His life and salvation, He does not ask for our heroic acts or sacrifices but our whole being to enjoy, savor, and share his love and work with others. God does not demand of us so-called “holy” extra-works of doing physical penances, or attending or organizing bible studies, miracle crusades, or prayer meetings. But rather, He simply requires us to be as best Christian as we can be, that is, to love Him and our neighbor, follow His precepts, celebrate liturgies in worship, share responsibilities with our fellowmen, and make them feel and realize that we are God’s people. For God, then, what matters most are not our sacrifices but our obedience, not commandments but our faith – a loving relationship with Him, through Jesus Christ.
Basically, God simply invites us not to be heroes, martyrs, or saints. But like John the Baptist, and the farmer who joyfully anticipates for the fruits, Jesus wants us to be His living and willing witnesses of the revelation and unfolding of God’s work of salvation. In other words, He simply wants us to be Witnesses of God’s salvation here & now.
For what is a Witness? Like a best man in a wedding ceremony, a witness is someone, who first, let God’s work of salvation to happen before his very eyes, not controlling or programming, but simply experiencing the event. Second, a witness is someone who let the event disturb, influence, and affect his life, for God’s work is good news to those who recognize accepts & believes his experience. And a witness is someone who stand for and share what he experiences and believes to others, for “Happy is the man who does not lose faith in me”.
Through our faith-responses to God’s revelation and act of His love, by our encounter and acceptance of His son as Emmanuel “God-with-us” in our lives now, by being affected and changed by the person of Jesus, by sharing our faith to others, – in other words by being His living eye & ear witnesses, God’s blessings begin and continue to prosper within us today and forever.
In reply to that man’s questions, I said to him, “it is not a sin to unemployed. You are not only what you have or what you have done in life. But you are who you are before God now. Just Be the best and responsible father and husband you can be. Let God do the rest.”
We began our advent journey with His challenge to: “Stay awake & Be prepared”. Then we are invited to “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. And today, the Lord calls to “Go & tell others what you hear & see”.
As we continue our advent journey in preparation for the birthday of our Lord in our lives nowadays, may we open our hearts, minds, body, soul, ears & eyes to recognize & believe in Him always in our midst, & hope for another spirit-filled year with Emmanuel, the God-with-us. Amen.