Rejoice in the Lord, always!

Posted by Christine Nusse on Dec 17, 2006 | Categories: Seasons of the Spirit

3rd Sunday of Advent

“Have no anxiety at all” continues Paul writing to the Philippians. Easy to preach! The command is made in the present tense. Today, rejoice and relax. Not when I am finished with this particular project at work, not when our apartment is finished being painted, not when I will finally have one week vacation, not when Friday evening arrives. No, now! In the present of my life as it is today. In my here and now are joy and peace available.
We are now in the final pages of the mystery I was talking about last week. It begins to unravel. Today’s liturgy gives us two more clues to chew on:
-From the second reading, Paul continues: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”
-From the Gospel of Luke 3:10-18: “The crowds asked John the Baptist, ‘What should we do?'” John answers with a series of very pragmatic suggestions: if you have two coats, give one, don’t cheat and cut corners in your business.
And the last sentence is the clue: “Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached the good news to the people.”
We have an inkling that here is the key to solving the mystery. But again, it complicates more than it helps. How can giving at the coat drive help me rejoice, find peace, and banish anxiety? It might ease my conscience a bit, like sending tax deductible contributions before December 31st. I might feel good about myself. And for that end John the Baptist’s message was enough. However it still does not explain the “already and not-yet”, nor the promise of joy and peace in spite of everything contributing to the contrary. John’s preaching is about good behavior. It will make for a better world, but not a radically different one.
What does Christ bring which will make it all radically different?

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