What must we do?

During the week I was listening to 3AW. There was a woman on who had two children of primary school age. She spoke about how she volunteers for the Red Cross on Christmas Day. It involves ringing people who are vulnerable in the community and checking if they are OK. She said that whilst conversations vary in length generally people are very grateful that someone has taken an interest in them. She said her children also took an interest in what she was doing and would quite often ask her “have you made rung those people today?”

Today we celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent. In this week’s Gospel from Luke we hear groups of people asking John the Baptist the question “what must we do?” You may remember a similar question was asked of Jesus from the rich man in the Gospel from a few Sundays ago “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus demanded that he give up everything and follow him he went away sad. In this week’s Gospel John the Baptist is not so demanding. When the crowd, the tax collectors and the soldiers ask him the question “what must we do?” he does not call them to dramatically change their life. Rather they are continue doing what they are doing but to do it with a spirit of generosity, a sense of justice and to be content with their lot in life.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about the three coming of Christ: The Christ who came in history, the Christ who will come again in the future and the Christ who comes to us each day.

In 1971 when she visited Melbourne Mother Teresa encountered a very earnest young man who expressed his desire to follow her to Calcutta (now Kolkata) to serve the poor. She was impressed by his sincerity but told him he did not need to travel to serve the poor but he could do that at home. Sometimes God does call people to leave everything behind (home, country) to follow him but it is not the only way we can follow him. We can follow him right where are right now. The woman on the radio this week gives us a good example of how there plenty of opportunities in the community to reach out to others.

This week we are invited to reflect on the question “What must we do?” and think about what God is asking of us at this time? This Third Sunday is known as ‘Gaudete Sunday’ the Sunday of joy. When we do what we are doing with a spirit of generosity, a sense of justice and contentment with our lot in life we will discover what true joy really means. In turn our hearts are opened to receive Christ with joy this Christmas.

 Fr Alan