How would you feel when the traffic light shows the yellow amber after waiting for a long time behind several cars in front of a traffic light? How do you react to an alert or notification that tells you that something good you have been expecting is just around the corner and your story is about to change? In what way would you react when you get a phone call or receive an email that says, “you will get the delivery of your package soon”
Expectations often keep us in the waiting room of life, and at times waiting could be weary and draining. Sometimes, when we wait so long, we experience stress, try to give up or look for unproductive shortcuts to get to our desired destinations. However, our expectations get joyful when we see signs that suggest that we are getting closer to our goals just like in the descriptions in the opening words of this reflection.
The Third Sunday of Advent invites us to rejoice because our expectation of the coming of the Messiah at Christmas would soon meet the desirable fulfillment. In the First Reading, the prophet Zephaniah (3:14-18a) invites us to shout for joy, to be glad, and exult with all our heart because the Lord our God, the mighty savior, is in our midst.
St. Paul continues the theme of joy in the Second Reading (Phil.4:4-7). He begins by asking us to rejoice in the Lord always, and he says that twice making an emphasis on the need for joyfulness even when we are confronted by various challenges that tend to produce anxiety in our lives.
The Fruits of Joy-Full Expectation
The Gospel Reading this Third Sunday of Advent (Luke 3:10-18) presents us with the answer of John the Baptist to the question of the crowds which says, “what should we do?” The question was the crowd’s response to John’s earlier invitation to prepare the way of the Lord through repentance.
Today, we see John’s answer to the question “what shall we do?” in the light of the joyful expectation of the coming of our savior Jesus Christ. Joy is an active divine fruit that produces other virtues. In the context of the joyful expectation of the arrival of our savior, John recommends:
- Courageous Charity: Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. Whoever has food should do the same.
- Prudence: Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.
- Justice: Do not practice extortion; do not accuse anyone.
- Temperance: Be satisfied with your wages.
A critical look at the instructions of John the Baptist would remind us of the cardinal virtues which are habits of the mind that are in harmony with reason and the order of nature. In his final instructions to the Philippians (4:8) St. Paul admonishes:
whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about all these things.
These are the inevitable accompaniments to our joy-full expectation.
The prophet Nehemiah (8:10b) says, “this is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”. Joy remains the potent precondition for encountering the Lord in fact, without the joy of the Lord we have no connection with God. We could recall that in the penitential prayer of David after his fall, he begged, “restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain in me a willing spirit (Psalm 51:12).
Our expectation should d be joyful because the coming of the savior is the joy to the world. Yes, we may be passing through challenges and problems that could make us sad and anxious, but the coming of the Lord would change everything. The Palmist (Ps.30:5) says that weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning; today is that morning of joy. The prophet Isaiah (35:10b) adds that everlasting joy shall be upon our heads and we shall obtain joy and gladness while sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
There is every reason for us to rejoice because those who are sitting in darkness would see a great light (Isaiah 9:2). The crawling caterpillar would soon become a flying butterfly, and nothing would stop the joy of divine liberation in our lives.
May your joy be full as you wait for the birth of the King of kings. May you have an awesome Sunday and a joyful week ahead.