What does true joy require of us?
Advent | Third Sunday of Advent (Year C)
Zephaniah 3:14-20 (Isaiah 12:2-6); Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
God loves everything that God made, and God loves you especially, and the only way you can avoid that love is by deliberately removing yourself from it. That is how I want to preach this Gospel on Advent 3. John the Baptist tells us that we can, in fact, separate ourselves from love, and describes some of the ways how. In response to John’s insistence that the ax is at the root of the tree, poised to cut down trees that don’t bear good fruit, three groups ask, “If that’s so, how then shall we live?”
The tension between the joy of the first three readings and the judgment of the Baptizer’s proclamation is theologically instructive. It presses us to hold the two together.