Third Sunday of Advent
1) Zep 3:14-18
Responsorial: Is 12:2-6
2) Phil 4:4-7
Gospel: Lk 3:10-18
For a Christian, thanksgiving is not just an annual holiday but a daily attitude of life. For God became one of us, in humble self-emptying, to reconcile each one of us to God’s love and mercy. For this act of undeserved and unmerited divine love we never exhaust the depths of our gratitude to God.
On this Third Sunday of Advent, traditionally known an Gaudete Sunday, the readings of Scripture invite us to recapture that deep Christian spirit of gratitude expressed in deeds of justice and charity. And as we give thanks to God, we discover the deep hope of Advent in God’s renewed coming into our families, homes and lives.
One of the first phrases parents teach a child is to say, “thank you.” And public expressions of gratitude are often on display during award ceremonies when people receiving awards deliver short or long acceptance speeches. From the Oscars and the Golden Globes to the Grammys and Country Music Awards, winners are compelled to deliver words of thanks as they accept the honor of a special award.
Overjoyed winners often list, with gratitude, those in their professional and personal lives who made it possible for them to achieve success and fame. And they are quick to admit that in the limited time of an acceptance speech they could only mention a few outstanding persons since they could not thank everyone who is truly deserving of their gratitude.
When it comes to expressing our gratitude to God there are never-ending opportunities to lift our hearts and minds to God. There is no limit to what we can thank God for since all of creation comes from the loving hand of God.
Everywhere we look we discover some sign of God’s love, mercy and providential care, even in the midst of difficulties and obstacles to faith. Perhaps this is why St. Paul urges the Philippians with such confidence by saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: Rejoice!”
It’s never too late to begin the spiritual preparations of Advent. Give God thanks for the small and large gifts of daily life as one way to get back on the spiritual track you may have hoped to travel this Advent.
As we approach the midpoint of Advent, we might be tempted to discouragement if the hectic pace of the season leaves little time for prayer and spiritual preparation. The holiday stress can easily turn Advent into an overwhelming and distracting time.
Once again, the word of God invites us into the mystery of the Incarnation that comes with the promise of our transformation and renewal. If we have lagged behind, we can still begin our Advent preparations anew, believing that God’s word fills us with Advent gratitude to say confidently, “speak to me, Lord.”
What one person, event or thing will I give thanks to God, today and every day for the rest of Advent?
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Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington.