Third Sunday Of Advent, December 17, 2006

Zephaniah 3: 14-18A

Philippians 4: 4-7

Luke 3: 10-18

Salvation, a Grace to Welcome....

The passage given from the Book of the prophet Zephaniah is a song of thanksgiving for the blessing coming from God. It is a joyful proclamation of the good news of salvation. The context in which the extract is inserted is that of the salvation promised to the little and humble who are called to repentance and placed in opposition to the powerful of Judah who do not act according to the will of God. This is what makes the link with the Gospel of the day and its rather disconcerting ending: John the Baptist, by these exhortations and many others, proclaimed Good News to the people. In what way can we call this series of exhortations Good News? In what way can the images of the winnower and of unending fire -- both images of judgment -- be good news and assimilated to the proclamation of a blessing?

The People, the Gospel tells us, have high expectations. The People await a Messiah, a liberator on whom the Holy Spirit will rest and who will have the power to deliver his people and inaugurate the Kingdom. John the Baptist has understood this expectation and bases on it the demands he places on the people.

The Lord your God is in youHe will renew you in his love we read in Zephaniah as we contemplate the mystery of this humanity that God has chosen from all eternity for himself. In order to welcome salvation, we have to recognize that it has already been given to us. And if it has already been given, there is only one thing to do: free it by the patient work of purification. We have to banish from ourselves all jealousy, egoism and laziness; otherwise the opaqueness of our being will keep God from appearing.

Salvation, however, is not a conquest but a grace that we have to welcome in the depths of our own being. This done, aware of the grace and consenting to its work of purification, we can hope that the peace of God that surpasses all we can imagine, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

-- Sr. Sophie Ramond, R.A.