GOSPEL : Luke 3:10-18
And the people asked him, “What then should we do ?” And John said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do ?” He answered them, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” Soldiers also asked him, “And what is it that we should do ?” He told them, “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages.”
Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize 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 with unquenchable fire.” Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.
Reflection and meditation
The Gospel Reading is a continuation of last Sunday’s reading on John’s proclamation of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The question asked by different groups was : “What shall we do ?” We can see that the invitation in all the responses is to do acts of mercy.
Today, we can ask the same question, “What shall we do ?” as we enter more fully in our journey this Advent.
Pope Francis declared this Jubilee Year of Mercy -
“Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy. It is journey that begins with a spiritual conversion. For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center. It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words : “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (cf. Lk 6:36)”
This Holy Year will begin on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – and living face of the Father’s mercy.” (Homily of Pope Francis)
The purpose of the Jubilee Year of Mercy is to highlight “that the gift of mercy is the announcement that the Church is called to transmit in her work of evangelization,” says Pope Francis. “New evangelization means becoming aware of the Father’s merciful love so that we too may become instruments of salvation for our brothers,” the Pope said. In helping people to become aware of God’s mercy, he said, it is crucial to recognize that this is “not an abstract idea of mercy, but rather a concrete experience by which we understand our weakness and the strength that comes from above.” (MERCY NEWS SERVICE – May 30, 2015)
We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy : the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Mercy : the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy : the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life. Mercy : the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness. (par. 2 – Misericordiae Vultus, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy)
Ask for the grace of mercy.
- Let us heed the call of Pope Francis – “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples. Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy : to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy : to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead. (par. 15 - – Misericordiae Vultus)
- “Do not be afraid nor let your hands tremble, for Yahweh your God is within you.” (from the First Reading : Zep 3:14-18a)
- “Rejoice and may everyone experience your gentle and understanding heart.” (from the Second Reading : Phil 4:4-7)
Celebrate : A prayer for our earth
Pope Francis’ Prayer for Jubilee Year of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us your face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money ; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things ; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman : “If you knew the gift of God !” You are the visible face of the invisible Father, of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy : let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error : let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God. Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, you who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.