3rd Sunday of Advent, Year C
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Readings at Mass (see our compilation with pictures in Encouragements-173) 8-)
Liturgical Colour: Rose or Violet.
First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst
Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud!
Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear.
When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem:
Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love;
he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12
The rejoicing of a redeemed people
Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples! Declare the greatness of his name.
Sing a psalm to the Lord for he has done glorious deeds;
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7
The Lord is very near
I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.
There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.
Isaiah 61:1 (Luke4:18)
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.
Gospel: Luke 3:10-18
'Someone is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire'
When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
The liturgy for the Third Sunday of Advent, also called "Gaudete" Sunday, invites us to intensify the interior pace of our pilgrimage to the Lord who comes to save us. Jesus, source of our peace, is coming. For this reason, despite difficulties and problems, we must all be full of holy optimism. St Paul urges us: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
I address you in particular, dear children. Christmas is the feast of a Child. Therefore it is your feast! You wait for it impatiently and prepare for it with joy, counting the days until 25 December. I gladly bless the figurines of the Christ Child and the cribs you are making at home. I bless you and the children of every part of the world, especially on the American continent, who were frequently recalled by the Synod Fathers. May the Infant Jesus fill each of them with joy, especially those tried by physical suffering or the lack of affection.
May Mary, the "woman of silence" who meditates on all these things, keeping them in her immaculate heart, accompany us on our Advent pilgrimage to the holy crib. May the Blessed Virgin help us to prepare for Christmas with a contemplative attitude and with renewed wonder at the ineffable mystery of God who became man so that man might return to God.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 14 December 1997)
Homilies, 17 December 2000 - JUBILEE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD
(see our compilation with pictures in Encouragements-174) 8-)
Angelus, 17 December 2000 - JUBILEE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD
As we prepare to close this solemn celebration, I again greet you, dear brothers and sisters, who represent the vast, multifaceted world of entertainment.
I extend a special greeting to those of you who are itinerants, because you work in circuses, amusement parks or on the streets. Your travel today has become a pilgrimage and reminds everyone that the Church is a people always on the move, with no fixed dwelling in this world. Be a Christian community yourselves; everywhere you go, bring not only healthy entertainment, but also the values of faith, the family and solidarity. May the great Cross icon here before us, which in 2001 will accompany the Jubilee mission in the circuses and amusement parks of Europe and America, enlighten and comfort you in the inevitable moments of difficulty.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 17 December 2000)
1. "Rejoice in the Lord always.... The Lord is near" (Philippians 4: 4-5).
With these words of the Apostle Paul the liturgy invites us to be joyful. It is the Third Sunday of Advent and is known as "Gaudete" Sunday for this very reason. These are the words the Servant of God Pope Paul VI chose for his memorable Apostolic Exhortation on Christian joy: "Gaudete in Domino!".
2. Advent is a season of rejoicing because it revives the expectation of the most joyful event in history: the birth of the Son of God by the Virgin Mary.
To know that God is not distant but close, not indifferent but compassionate, not aloof but a merciful Father who follows us lovingly with respect for our freedom: all this is a cause of deep joy which the alternating ups and downs of daily life cannot touch.
3. An unmistakable feature of Christian joy is that it can go hand in hand with suffering, since it is based entirely on love. Indeed, the Lord who "is near", to the point of becoming man, comes to fill us with his joy, the joy of loving. Only in this way can we understand the serene joy of the martyrs even amid trial, or the smile of saints, full of charity for those who are suffering: a smile that does not offend but consoles.
"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Luke 1: 28). The Angel's announcement to Mary is an invitation to rejoice. Let us ask the Holy Virgin for the gift of Christian joy.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 14 December 2003)
On this Third Sunday of Advent, the liturgy invites us to the joy of the spirit. It does so with the famous antiphon as part of an exhortation of the Apostle Paul: "Gaudete in Domino", "Rejoice in the Lord always... the Lord is at hand" (cf. Philippians 4: 4, 5).
The first Reading of Mass is also an invitation to joy. The Prophet Zephaniah at the end of the seventh century B.C. spoke to the city of Jerusalem and its people with these words: "Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem...! [T]he Lord your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory" (Zephaniah 3: 14, 17).
God himself is portrayed with similar sentiments, as the prophet says: "The Lord... will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love... as on a day of festival" (Zephaniah 3: 17-18). This promise was fully brought about in the mystery of Christmas, which we shall be celebrating in a week and which asks to be renewed in the "today" of our lives and of history.
The joy that the liturgy reawakens in the hearts of Christians is not reserved for us alone: it is a prophetic proclamation destined for all humanity and for the poorest of the poor in particular, in this case, those poorest in joy!
The invitation to rejoice is not an alienating message nor a sterile palliative, but on the contrary, it is a salvific prophecy, an appeal for rescue that starts with inner renewal.
To transform the world, God chose a humble young girl from a village in Galilee, Mary of Nazareth, and challenged her with this greeting: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you". In these words lies the secret of an authentic Christmas. God repeats them to the Church, to each one of us: Rejoice, the Lord is close! With Mary's help, let us offer ourselves with humility and courage so that the world may accept Christ, who is the source of true joy.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 17 December 2006)
We have now reached the Third Sunday of Advent. Today in the liturgy the Apostle Paul's invitation rings out: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.... The Lord is at hand!" (Philippians 4: 4-5). While Mother Church accompanies us towards Holy Christmas she helps us rediscover the meaning and taste of Christian joy, so different from that of the world. On this Sunday, according to a beautiful tradition, the children of Rome come to have the Pope bless the Baby Jesus figurines that they will put in their cribs. And in fact, I see here in St Peter's Square a great number of children and young people, together with their parents, teachers and catechists. Dear friends, I greet you all with deep affection and thank you for coming. It gives me great joy to know that the custom of creating a crib scene has been preserved in your families. Yet it is not enough to repeat a traditional gesture, however important it may be. It is necessary to seek to live in the reality of daily life that the crib represents, namely, the love of Christ, his humility, his poverty. This is what St Francis did at Greccio: he recreated a live presentation of the nativity scene in order to contemplate and worship it, but above all to be better able to put into practice the message of the Son of God who for love of us emptied himself completely and made himself a tiny child.
The blessing of the "Bambinelli" [Baby Jesus figurines] as they are called in Rome, reminds us that the crib is a school of life where we can learn the secret of true joy. This does not consist in having many things but in feeling loved by the Lord, in giving oneself as a gift for others and in loving one another. Let us look at the crib. Our Lady and St Joseph do not seem to be a very fortunate family; their first child was born in the midst of great hardship; yet they are full of deep joy, because they love each other, they help each other and, especially, they are certain that God, who made himself present in the little Jesus, is at work in their story. And the shepherds? What did they have to rejoice about? That Newborn Infant was not to change their condition of poverty and marginalization. But faith helped them recognize the "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" as a "sign" of the fulfilment of God's promises for all human beings, "with whom he is pleased" (Luke 2: 12, 14).
This, dear friends, is what true joy consists in: it is feeling that our personal and community existence has been visited and filled by a great mystery, the mystery of God's love. In order to rejoice we do not need things alone, but love and truth: we need a close God who warms our hearts and responds to our deepest expectations. This God is manifested in Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary. Therefore that "Bambinello" which we place in a stable or a grotto is the centre of all things, the heart of the world. Let us pray that every person, like the Virgin Mary, may accept as the centre of his or her life the God who made himself a Child, the source of true joy.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 13 December 2009)
The First Reading we have heard is an insistent invitation to rejoice. The passage begins with the words “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion... Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem” (Zephaniah 3:14); which is similar to that of the Angel’s annunciation to Mary: “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:28). The essential reason why the daughter of Zion can be joyful is expressed in the affirmation we have just heard: “the Lord is in your midst” (Zephaniah 3:15, 17); this means literally “is in your womb”, with a clear reference to the dwelling place of God in the Ark of the Covenant, always set in the midst of the People of Israel. The prophet wishes to tell us that there is no longer any reason for distrust, discouragement, sorrow, whatever the situation that must be faced, because we are certain of the Lord’s presence which alone suffices to calm and cheer hearts.
The Prophet Zephaniah, in addition, lets us know that this joy is reciprocal: we are invited to rejoice, but the Lord also rejoices in his relationship with us; indeed, the prophet writes: “he will exult over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (v. 17). The joy that is promised in this prophetic text, will find its fulfilment in Jesus, who is in the womb of Mary, the “Daughter of Zion”, and in this way dwelt among us (cf. John 1: 14). Indeed, in coming into the world he gives us his joy, just as he himself confides to his disciples: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). Jesus brings people salvation, a new relationship with God that overcomes evil and death, and brings true joy in this presence of the Lord who comes to lighten our paths that are all too often engulfed in shadows and in selfishness.
We can reflect on whether we are really aware of this fact that the Lord is present among us, that he is not a distant God but a God-with-us, a God in our midst who is with us here, who is in the Blessed Eucharist, he is with us in the living Church and we must be heralds of this presence of God. Thus God rejoices in us and we can attain joy: God exists, God is good and God is close.
In the Second Reading we have heard, St Paul invites the Christians of Philippi to rejoice in the Lord. Can we rejoice? And why should we rejoice? St Paul answers: because “the Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5). In a few days we shall be celebrating Christmas, the Feast of the coming of God who made himself a child and our brother so as to be with us and to share in our human condition. We must rejoice in his closeness, in his presence, and must seek ever better to understand that he really is close, and thus be penetrated by the reality of God’s goodness, joy at Christ being with us.
Paul says forcefully in another of his Letters that nothing can separate us from the love of God which was expressed in Christ. Sin alone can distance us from him, but this is a factor of separation that we ourselves introduce into our relationship with the Lord. Yet, even when we cut ourselves adrift, he does not cease to love us and continues to be close with his mercy, with his readiness to forgive and to embrace us in his love. Therefore, St Paul continues, we must never be anxious, we can always set our requests, our needs, our worries before the Lord “by prayer and supplication” (4:6). This is a great cause for joy: knowing that it is always possible to pray to the Lord and that the Lord hears us, that God is not distant, but really listens, he knows us; and knowing that he never rejects our prayers even if he does not always answer as we would like, but that he does answer. And the Apostle adds: pray “with thanksgiving” (ibid.).
The joy the Lord communicates to us must encounter grateful love in us. Indeed, our joy is complete when we recognize his mercy, when we become attentive to the signs of his goodness, if we truly perceive that this goodness of God is with us and thank him for all that we receive from him every day. Those who selfishly welcome God’s gifts fail to find true joy; but the hearts of those who make God’s gifts an opportunity to love him with sincere gratitude and to communicate his love to others, are truly filled with joy. Let us remember that!
After the two Readings, let us come to the Gospel. Today’s Gospel tells us that to receive the Lord who comes we must prepare ourselves by looking clearly at our behaviour in life. John the Baptist replies to the different people who ask him what they should do to be ready for the Messiah’s coming (cf. Luke 3:10, 12, 14) that God asks for nothing extraordinary but that each one live in accordance with the criteria of solidarity and justice; without them we cannot prepare properly for the encounter with the Lord. Therefore let us too ask the Lord what he expects of us and what he wants us to do, and begin to understand that he does not demand anything extraordinary but rather that we live our normal life with rectitude and goodness.
Finally John the Baptist points out that we must follow with faithfulness and courage. First of all he denies that he himself is the Messiah and firmly proclaims: “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie (v. 16). Here we note John’s deep humility in recognizing that his mission is to prepare the way for Jesus. Saying “I baptize you with water” cannot but make it clear that his action is symbolic. In fact he cannot eliminate and forgive sins: baptizing with water can only indicate that it is necessary to change one’s life. At the same time, John proclaims the coming of the one who is “mightier than he” who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (ibid.). And, as we have heard, this great prophet uses strong images to invite people to conversion; however this is not in order to instil fear but rather to encourage them to receive God’s love in the best possible way, as it alone can truly purify life. God makes himself a man like us to give us a hope that is sure: if we follow him, if we are consistent in living our Christian life, he will draw us to him, he will lead us to communion with him; and there will be in our hearts true joy and true peace, even in difficulty, even in moments of weakness.
Dear friends, I am glad to pray with you to the Lord who makes himself present in the Eucharist to be with us always.
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 16 December 2012)
The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent presents once again the figure of John the Baptist, and it depicts him while he is speaking to the people who come to him at the River Jordan to be baptized. Since John, with incisive words, urges them all to prepare themselves for the Messiah’s coming, some ask him, “What then shall we do?” (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). These exchanges are very interesting and prove to be of great timeliness.
The first answer is addressed to the crowd in general. The Baptist says, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (v. 11). Here we can see a criterion of justice, motivated by charity. Justice requires that the imbalance between the one who has more than enough and the one who lacks the necessary be overcome; charity prompts us to be attentive to others and to meet their needs, instead of seeking justification to defend one’s own interests. Justice and charity are not in opposition, but are both necessary and complete each other. “Love — caritas — will always prove necessary, even in the most just society”, because “There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbour is indispensable” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, n. 28).
Then we see the second answer, which is directed at some "publicans", that is, tax-collectors on behalf of the Romans. The publicans were already despised for this, and also because they often made the most of their position to steal. The Baptist does not ask them to change their profession, but to exact no more than what has been established (cf. v. 13). The prophet, in the name of God, does not demand exceptional acts, but first and foremost the just fulfilment of one’s duty. The first step towards eternal life is always the observance of the Commandments; in this case, the seventh one: You shall not steal (cf. Exodus 20:15).
The third reply concerns the soldiers, another class that enjoyed a certain authority, and was thus tempted to abuse it. John says to the soldiers: “Rob no one by violence, and be content with your wages” (v. 14). Here too the conversation begins with honesty and with respect for others: an instruction that applies to everyone, especially for those with greater responsibility.
On considering this dialogue as a whole, we are struck by the great concreteness of John's words: since God will judge us according to our works, it is there, in our behaviour, that we must show that we are doing his will. For this very reason, the Baptist's instructions are ever timely: even in our very complex world, things would go much better if each person observed these rules of conduct. Therefore let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that he may help us to prepare ourselves for Christmas, bearing the good fruits of repentance (cf. Luke 3:8).
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 16 December 2012)
The invitation extended by the Prophet to the ancient city of Jerusalem is also addressed today to the whole Church and to each one of us: “Rejoice... exalt!” (Zephaniah 3:14). The reason for joy is expressed with words which inspire hope, and which can look to the future with serenity. The Lord revoked all condemnation and has decided to live among us.
This Third Sunday of Advent draws our gaze towards Christmas, which is now near. We cannot let ourselves be taken in by weariness; sadness in any form is not allowed, even though we may have reason, with many concerns and the many forms of violence which wound our humanity. The coming of the Lord, however, must fill our hearts with joy. The prophet in whose very name — Zephaniah — is inscribed the content of this announcement, opens our hearts to trust: “God protects” his people. In a historical context of great tyranny and violence, especially by men of power, God makes it known that he will reign over his people, that he will no longer leave them at the mercy of the arrogance of their leaders, and that he will free them from all anguish. Today, we are asked to “let not our hands grow weak” (cf. Zephaniah 3:16) due to doubt, impatience or suffering.
The Apostle Paul vigorously resumes the teaching of the prophet Zephaniah and reiterates: “The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5). Because of this we should rejoice always, and to everyone graciously bear witness to the closeness and care that God has for each person.
We have opened the Holy Door, here and in all the Cathedrals of the world. Even this simple sign is an invitation to joy. The time of great forgiveness begins. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity. He is Father; he is tender. He does everything with the tenderness of the Father. We too are like the crowds who ask John, “What then shall we do” (Luke 3:10). The response of the Baptist is immediate. He invites us to act justly and to look after the needs of those who are in need. What John demands of his interlocutors, however, is what is reflected in the law. We, however, are asked for a more radical commitment. Before the Holy Door that we are called to pass through, we are asked to be instruments of mercy, knowing that we will be judged on this. Those who are baptized know that they have a greater task. Faith in Christ leads to a lifelong journey: to be merciful like the Father. The joy of passing through the Door of Mercy is accompanied by a commitment to welcome and witness to a love that surpasses justice, a love that knows no boundaries. It is for this infinite love that we are responsible, in spite of our contradictions.
Let us pray for ourselves and for all who pass through the Door of Mercy, that we may understand and welcome the infinite love of our Heavenly Father, who recreates, transforms and reforms life.
Pope Francis I (Homily, 13 December 2015)
In today’s Gospel, there is a question posed three times: “What shall we do?” (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). It is raised to John the Baptist by three categories of people: First, the crowd in general; second, the publicans or tax collectors; and, third, some soldiers. Each of these groups questions the prophet on what must be done to implement the conversion that he is preaching. John’s reply to the question of the crowd is sharing essential goods. He told the first group, the crowd, to share basic necessities, and therefore says: “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (v. 11). Then, he tells the second group, the tax collectors, to collect no more than the amount owed. What does this mean? No taking ‘bribes’, John the Baptist is clear. And he tells the third group, the soldiers, not to extort anything from anyone and to be content with their wages (cf. v. 14). There are three answers to the three questions of these groups. Three answers for an identical path of repentance, which is manifested in concrete commitments to justice and solidarity. It is the path that Jesus points to in all his preaching: the path of diligent love for neighbour.
From John the Baptist’s admonitions, we understand the general tendencies of those who at that time held power, in various forms. Things have not changed very much. However, no category of people is excluded from following the path of repentance to obtain salvation, not even the tax collectors, considered sinners by definition: not even they are excluded from salvation. God does not preclude anyone from the opportunity to be saved. He is — so to speak — anxious to show mercy, to show it towards everyone, and to welcome each one into the tender embrace of reconciliation and forgiveness.
We feel that this question — “What shall we do?” — is ours also. Today’s liturgy tells us, in the words of John, that it is necessary to repent, to change direction and take the path of justice, solidarity, sobriety: these are the essential values of a fully human and genuinely Christian life. Repent! It sums up the message of the Baptist. And the Liturgy of this Third Sunday of Advent helps us to rediscover a special dimension of repentance: joy. Whoever repents and approaches the Lord, feels joy. The prophet Zephaniah says to us today: “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion!”, addressing Jerusalem (Zephaniah 3:14); and the apostle Paul exhorts the Christians of Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Today, it takes courage to speak of joy, which, above all, requires faith! The world is beset by many problems, the future is burdened by uncertainties and fears. Yet, Christians are a joyful people, and their joy is not something superficial and ephemeral, but deep and stable, because it is a gift from the Lord that fills life. Our joy comes from the certainty that “the Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5): he is close with his tenderness, his mercy, his forgiveness and his love.
May the Virgin Mary help us to strengthen our faith, so that we are able to welcome the God of joy, the God of mercy, who always wants to live in the midst of his children. May our Mother teach us to share tears with those who weep, in order to be able to also share a smile.
Pope Francis I (Angelus, 13 December 2015)
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Compiled on 16 December 2018