Did you hear about the three guys sitting at a bar? One had an arm in a cast, the second had a leg in a cast, and the third had on a back brace.
The guy with his arm in a cast says to the bartender, “That fellow at the end looks like Jesus. Is that him?”
“Yes,”said the bartender.
“Hey, give him a drink on me.”
The fellow with his leg in a cast says, “Yeah, give him a drink on me, too.”
The guy with the back brace says, “Give him a drink on me, too.”
After a while Jesus comes over and thanks all three of them. Then he touches the first guy, and his arm is healed. He touches the second guy and the leg is healed. The third guy stands us and says, “Please, Jesus, don’t touch me. I’m on disability.”
What is your image of God? How do you picture him in your mind? Do you imagine him as a stern judge, or as a benevolent old man, or perhaps a serious looking parent or teacher. Do you ever imagine God as a singer? Well, it is good to imagine him as that, because that is how our first reading today describes him. From the prophet Zephaniah we read,
“The Lord, your God, is in your midst. … He will rejoice over you with gladness… He will sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals.” That certainly is a happy image.
Today is the third Sunday of Advent. It is called “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is Latin for “Rejoice,” the first word in our second reading. We rejoice because Christmas is near. And Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for Christmas. How do we do that? What are we to do?
In today’s gospel the people ask John the Baptist,
“What are we to do?” John’s response:
To the crowds he said: “Be generous - give your extra coat.”
To tax collectors he said: “Be fair - exact just the fixed amount.”
To the soldiers: “Don’t extort. Don’t lie.”
If John were addressing business people, he might say, “Don’t act out of greed. Don’t cheat. Distribute profits justly.
To school children, “You are precious. Develop your talents now. God will soon use you to do his work.”
To people with good health, John might say, “Spend time visiting the sick.”
To people with homes, John would urge us, “Reach out to the homeless.”
To people with living loved ones, “Reach out to those who are bereaved.”
To people in stable marriages, “Help those whose hearts are broken.”
To people in the media, “Stop the violence. Show people ways to think and act for peace. Present sex in a wholesome and decent manner.”
If John were addressing parents, “Don’t be too busy with tasks. Take time to enjoy your family.”
If John were addressing politicians he might say, “Press for laws that protect all human life, from the womb to the tomb.”
To spouses, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Be patient and forgiving. See the inner goodness and beauty of each other.
If John were addressing teens: “Watch your words. Don’t tear down. Build up other people.”
To all people on earth, John might say, “Love the earth, protect it, and conserve it.”
To all people, John might say, “Be patient and forgiving to all you meet.”
To all people, John might say, “Make time for the really important people in your life because, what if tomorrow never comes? The only time you have is now.”
And finally, to all of us who have so many blessings, John could tell us, as did St. Paul today. “Rejoice. Everyone should see how unselfish you are.”Good advice for this time of year. Being unselfish brings joy. So we rejoice.
St Augustine said, “To be filled with love is to be filled with God.” We rejoice because we have received a lot of love and we can give a lot of love.
With our Christmas songs, our Christmas cards and letters, and our cheerful greetings, let us proclaim to the world this beautiful message:
Where there is love, there is God.
Every day can be Christmas.
Come, let us rejoice and sing, -- just like God does.