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Rejoice The Lord is near

Dec 19, 2012, 9:14 AM | Article By: FR. EDU GOMEZ - Parish of the Resurrection, Brikama

In a good family, children are not happy when one circumstance or the other compels their parents to travel far away leaving them on their own for a considerable long period.This situation is most true when such children are quite tender and at as such dependent on their parents.Even for a true and committed Christian’s couple, any kind of physical separation necessitated either by civil services system or whatever it could be leaves each of the parties in a temporal state of longing and un-fulfillment.God’s people of old had their time of longing and feeling of isolation.They longed for God their Father and felt isolated from Him, as He seemed far from them.They passed through the age of scarcity of prophets who are normally the mouth-piece of God that make known His will and purpose to them in any situation they find themselves.Even the Psalmist had to cry as follows:“For now we have no prophets, not one to tell us how long it will last”.(Psalm 74:9).They suffered famine, misfortune, defeat and exile, which is all an indication that the God of the covenant was now beyond their reach.What a great event of joy must it have been for them on the day that the prophet Zephaniah arose and cried to them on the following words:“The Lord, the King of Israel is your midst, you have no more evil to fear”.(Zephaniah 3:5).Today the above message of the prophet Zephaniah is addressed to us.As we pray over the following sections of God’s word, let us make it our own:Zephaniah 3:14-18, Philippians 4:4-7 and the gospel of St Luke 3:10-18.

Some children who have not behaved accordingly during the absence of their parents are not at peace with the thought of the return of their parents because of the imminent punishment it implies.This negative kind of thought most of the times colours our attitude and dispositions towards the imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.Today, the word of God challenges us to view the coming of Christ from a more positive angle.For those who have been faithful, it is going to be a time of great joy and reward.But even for the unfortunate and wayward ones, a great opportunity is being offered now for repentance and reconciliation.The sentence that has been passed on us by the reason of our sin, He wants to repeal and the yoke that has been placed on us by the wickedness and those of our adversaries.He is eager to break.Our joy is the happiness of the Lord and our liberation is His mission.As He foretold His advent to the Israelites of old through the prophet Zephaniah, He told desolate ones to shout for joy and commanded those who never thought of standing on their feet to jump up.Listen to the prophet:“Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice; exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has repealed your sentence; He has driven your enemies away.The Lord, the King of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear.When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp”. (Zephaniah 3:14-16)

The advent of the Lord makes things favourable and makes us quite willing to welcome Him and to cooperate with Him.It doesn’t give room for unnecessary doubts and delays.St Paul told his Philippians audience who like us, were waiting for the Lord, that there is no need for any worry or anxiety.They should be patient, tolerating whatever, praying to Christ directly for whatever they need and thanking Him for whatever favour received.Listen to him:“I want to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.Let your tolerance be evident to everyone:The Lord is near.There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus”.

When Jesus Christ was about to appear, John the Baptist came to the Israelites with the mission of enabling each and everyone of them to receive Him joyfully and fruitfully.John the Baptist in his ministry and message made it clear that the coming of Christ discriminates nobody.It was for everyone’s benefit, rich and poor, young and old.The simple thing that they needed to do was to put aright in their lives, anything that calls for right ordering.It is for this reason that people from all segments of the society, including public sinners, flocked to John the Baptist, eagerly asking him what each in his own context is supposed to do.It is this very question that each and every one of us is supposed to ask today, and then act joyfully, courageously and practically to whatever response we happen to get.The following dialogues ensued between John and his anxious audience: “When all the people ask John, ‘what must we do?’He answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same’.There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and they said to him ‘master what must we do?’He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate’.Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘what about us? What must we do?’He said to them, ‘no intimidation! Be content with your pay!’’’ (Luke 3:10-13).