Sunday Church at Home – Third Sunday of Advent, 12th December 2021

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Third Sunday of Advent, Cycle C.
12th December, 2021

 

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

Gaudete Sunday

The Gospel: A Proclamation of Joy.

 

The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 

Leader:    In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All reply:    Amen

 

Leader:    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All reply:    Blessed be God for ever

 

ADVENT RITUAL

Leader:   

On this third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, we light the third candle, the rose-coloured candle on our advent wreath.  Pink or rose is the liturgical colour for joy. 

Today is a joyful celebration, a reminder that our time of preparation for Christmas is almost over.

 

We now light the third candle on the Advent wreath.

The first candle is the candle of hope;

the second is the candle of faith;

the third candle today is the candle of joy.

 

This candle represents our joyful expectations of Christ’s birth and His return. We joyfully contemplate our passing from the darkness of sin into the fullness of His light and forgiveness. As we light this candle, we remember that Christ is the bringer of true and everlasting joy.

 

The first and second purple candles and the rose/pink candle are lit.

 

Leader:    Let us Pray

 

Loving God,

We thank you for the joy You bring us.

Through your Son we have found joy in living as Your children.

Help us to prepare our hearts for this gift.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Families with a Jesse Tree can use the following, or the text from the Family Advent book available at the Bryanston Catholic Church.

 

The symbols on the Jesse Tree remind us of the people and events of salvation history as we look forward to the coming of the Saviour.

 

  • Joseph and his Coat: The beautiful coat, a princely symbol that Jacob had made for his beloved son Joseph became the focus of the jealousy of his 11 brothers. Lord may we be humble before you and remember all that we have is from you. (pause)

 

  • The Burning Bush: The manifest presence of God in the form of a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. May we too be filled with the fire of God’s love in our lives and remember that, like Moses, He calls each of us by name.  (pause)

 

  • Moses and the Law: The ten commandments; help us Lord to uphold these God given laws in our daily interactions with everyone we meet especially the vulnerable. (pause)

 

  • The Prophet Samuel: Here we have a lamp which represents the light of the Word of God coming into the world. Help us to hear your word Lord and bring its life into the world. (pause)

 

  • A Sheaf of Wheat: Ruth was allowed to collect left-over wheat in the fields following behind the reapers so that she could have enough food for her mother-in-law Naomi and herself. When we look at this sheaf of wheat, we remember that Gods provision extends to all people who trust in Him.  (pause)

 

The third verse of the Advent Wreath Hymn can be sung.
(Tune: Away in a Manger)

 

A candle is burning, a candle of Joy;

A candle to welcome brave Mary’s new boy.

Our hearts fill with wonder and eyes light and glow

As Joy brightens winter like sunshine on snow.

 

We continue with the Liturgy of the Word.

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading:  Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Introduction to the reading: The days of the prophet Zephaniah were bad times for Israel because of their idolatry and unfaithfulness to the law. Zephaniah preached impending judgment, a day of doom. But in the end, he tells them of a day when they will sing for joy, and the Lord will sing joyfully over them.

 

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Zephaniah.

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
he has cast out your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
you shall fear evil no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.

The word of the Lord.

 

Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-3.4bcde.5-6 (R. 6)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Shout and sing for joy,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the nations,
proclaim that his name is exalted.

“Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

R/. Shout and sing for joy,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

 

Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

Introduction to the reading:

Of all the communities Paul founded, the one at Philippi was his favourite. Toward the end of his letter to them, he advises them how to live as they await Christ’s return in glory.

 

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians.

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always;
again I will say, Rejoice.
Let all people know your forbearance.
The Lord is at hand.
Have no anxiety about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The word of the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me;
he has sent me to preach good news to the poor.
Alleluia.

 

Gospel: Luke 3:10-18

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

At that time:
The multitudes asked John [the Baptizer], “What then shall we do?”

And he answered them,
“He who has two coats,
let him share with him who has none;
and he who has food, let him do likewise.”

Tax collectors also came to be baptized,
and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”

And he said to them, “Collect no more than is appointed you.”

Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?”

And he said to them,
“Rob no one by violence or by false accusation,
and be content with your wages.” 

As the people were in expectation,
and all questioned in their hearts concerning John,
whether perhaps he were the Christ,
John answered them all,
“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;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
His winnowing fork is in his hand,
to clear his threshing floor,
and to gather the wheat into his granary,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 

So, with many other exhortations,
he preached good news to the people.

The Gospel of the Lord

 

 

Reflection on the Readings 

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily 

Sometimes these days I hear the idea that religion hinders one’s freedom, that religion cramps one’s lifestyle, that it is an oppressive force. Sometimes Catholics can be ashamed to talk about religion to each other or their friends. Some believe their reputation would suffer a big blow if it were known that they had strong faith so they hide it. Some people say I don’t go to church but I am a very spiritual person.

My experience of working in parishes for the last 25 years has shown to me that religion doesn’t hinder us or cramp us in any way. Living with a strong faith in God brings us the true happiness we cannot find elsewhere.

That’s why Paul wrote in the second reading, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice!” In other words,  “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Phil 4:4)

Notice where he says we will find our happiness, “in the Lord.” We will find our happiness by living the Christian life.

The joy and happiness in the Lord that we celebrate today is symbolized by lighting a rose candle on the Advent wreath today instead of a purple one and also symbolized by wearing rose vestments today instead of purple ones.

I would like to recall a number of times when we see Jesus being happy and joyful. Did Jesus feel cramped and hindered? Not according to what we discover in the Gospels.

In John 15:11 we read Jesus saying, “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.” Jesus was joyful and wanted his disciples to share his joy, “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.”

Jesus attended many dinners: the one given him by Matthew/Levi after he called him; at Zacchaeus’ house; and there was dinner at Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s house. Jesus would have been relaxed and joyful among his friends.

Think of Jesus feeding the 5000 with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. I can imagine the joy in Jesus as he sees the disbelief of the disciples and the people turn to awe and wonder as they experience God’s generosity.

Think of the joy in Jesus as he sees the change in paralysed man, the blind man, the lepers and many others who are healed.

At Cana, Jesus changed about 500 litres of water into wine so that the wedding guests could continue to enjoy themselves, and it was wine of the best vintage. That was a lot of wine, but we must remember that at that time the wedding celebration lasted a week which explains why so much wine was needed.

The first step to become happy in the Lord is to give up sin so that we can live a life of grace with the Lord. In the Gospel today (Luke 3:10-18) three times people asked John the Baptist, “what should we do?” Each time he told them to give up something or not to be greedy. Our journey of conversion is a journey from wanting and being greedy and possessive to becoming unselfish.

Giving up sin means changing an attitude of selfishness and entitlement to the joy of being connected and wanted and loved by all. That was the journey John the Baptist asked his hearers to make and the journey we are challenged to make this Advent so that we will have true joy and happiness to celebrate at Christmas rather than just Santa Claus coming to town.

When we turn our backs on the attitude of selfishness and follow the Lord it does not mean that we will never again have trouble. Of course we will. We will have ups and downs as long as we live; but we will have an inner peace in the Lord and find our happiness in the Lord.

I find the following two examples of being happy in the Lord in spite of severe difficulties extremely challenging. I doubt that I could be equally happy in such difficult situations, but they are examples to us of being happy in the Lord.

  • Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was in one of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II and volunteered for the death chamber in the place of one of his fellow prisoners. The jailers reported that whereas the death chambers were usually places of despair and cursing, in this case the condemned men were singing hymns.
  • Archbishop Oscar Romero was asked by a newspaper reporter if he was aware that people wanted to kill him and he replied, “You can tell them they are wasting their time. They can kill a bishop but they cannot kill the people of God, the Church. If I am killed I will rise again in the people of El Salvador.”

I am sure you will agree that they are very challenging examples of being happy in the Lord. They remind us, as Paul reminds us today, that God wants us to be happy.

The Lord wills us to be happy.

Since the day we were baptized we are sons and daughters of God. The words of our first reading from the prophet Zephaniah are fulfilled in the lives of each of us on the day we were baptized:

“Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!

He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals”.

How wonderful that is – God will sing joyfully because of you!

Let us imagine God rejoicing over each one of us on the day we were baptized. God is renewing us by his love. John the Baptizer told his listeners that he baptized with water but Jesus was coming after him and he would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. When you were baptized the Holy Spirit came down upon you – you were touched by God. God put his seal on you when you were baptised.  Why be unhappy? Our faith in God brings us joy as we discover our purpose and meaning in life.

So, when some people say that religion hinders one’s freedom, that religion cramps our lifestyle, that it is oppressive force. Remind them that our faith in God is a liberating force, liberating us from unhappiness and helping us to find our joy in the Lord.

Say again and again the words of St Paul: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say: rejoice!”

From today’s Gospel reading:

The crowds asked John the Baptist,

“What should we do?”

Reflection: 

If we are going to welcome the Christ child at Christmas we will need to face what hinders our openness to him and will dampen our welcome. We take up the question those who heard John asked him, “What should we do?” The issue at this point is not what people should ponder, or think about doing. The imminent coming of the Messiah requires action now. We are to do something and do it now. No putting off action.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • What touched me in the readings today?
  • What could be distracting me from being joyful in the Lord?
  • What can I do to be ready for the Lord when he comes?

 

Prayer of the Faithful 

 

Leader:    With trust in the power of God, we present our needs and the needs of the world to God the Father.

 

Reader:

 

We pray for Pope Francis and the bishops:  that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit to proclaim with joy the Good News of Jesus Christ.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for those in leadership in government:  that they may act with justice and compassion towards those who are most vulnerable in our society.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for all who are suffering: that God will heal the wounds of discrimination, guide all young people who are confused or misdirected, and help all who are struggling with addictions to have a new beginning.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for the protection of earth’s resources: that God will give wisdom and understanding to all who are developing policies that affect earth’s air, water, and natural resources.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for protection and healing: that God will protect the human family from the pandemic virus, heal all who are ill, and give strength to all who care for the sick by distributing the covid vaccine.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for members of our families and friends who have died and those whose anniversaries occur about this time.
LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for Stella Collins who died during the week.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.  Amen.

 

Leader:    Let us pray our Advent Prayer:

 

God of hope,
be with us on our Advent journey.
Keep our hearts aflame with the hope of Christmas.
Help us to welcome Christ into our homes and situations, into our hearts and into the hidden parts of our lives.
Help us to put you as the centre and focus of our lives,
for sometimes we are distracted
by the snares of the world.
God of majesty and might,
help us to receive the gift of salvation
which you offer us through the incarnation of Jesus.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. 

 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:    Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:    Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:    Almighty God,
you sent your Son into a world
where the wheat must be winnowed from the chaff
and evil clings even to what is good.

Let the fire of your Spirit
purge us of greed and deceit,
so that, purified, we may find our peace in you
and you may delight in us.

Grant this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.

 

All:    Amen.

 

Leader:     May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:         Amen.

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