“Standing up, with joy, for Jesus amid every difficulty, and cleansing our hearts so that our Blessed Lord can be born in us!”
(Based on Zeph 3:14-18 a, Phil 4:4-7 and Lk 3:10-18 – 3rd Sunday in Advent, Year C)
Here is a lovely story of a humble little monk named Telemachus living out in the farming regions of Asia. Telemachus had no great ambitions in life.
He loved his little garden and tilled it through the changing seasons.
But one day in the year 391, he felt a sense of urgency, a call of God’s direction in his life – to Rome.
Rome was the heart and soul of the mighty empire.
The feelings of such a call frightened him, but he went, praying along the way for God’s direction.
When he finally got to the city it was in an uproar! The armies of Rome had just come home from the battlefield in victory, and the crowds were turning out for a great celebration.
They flowed through the streets like a tidal wave, and Telemachus was caught in their frenzy and carried into the Colosseum.
He had never seen a gladiator contest before, but now his heart sickened.
Down in the arena men hacked at each other with swords and clubs.
The crowds roared at the sight of blood, and urged their favourites on to the death.
Telemachus couldn’t stand it.
He knew this wasn’t the way God wanted people to live or to die.
So little Telemachus worked his way through the crowds to the wall down by the arena. “In the name of Christ, forbear!” he shouted.
Nobody heard him, so he crawled onto the wall and shouted again: “In the name of Christ, forbear!”
This time the few who heard him only laughed. But Telemachus was not to be ignored.
He jumped into the arena and ran through toward the gladiators. “In the name of Christ, forbear!”
The crowds laughed at the silly little man and threw stones at him.
Telemachus, however, was on a mission.
He threw himself between the gladiators to stop their fighting.
“In the name of Christ, forbear!” he cried.
They hacked him apart!
They cut his body from shoulder to stomach, and he fell onto the sand with the blood running out of his life. The gladiators were stunned and stopped to watch him die.
Then the crowds fell back in silence, and, for a moment, no one in the Colosseum moved.
The site of the dead man, and the reaction of the crowd, led the emperor and his guests to silently stand, turn and leave the Colosseum.
After a few minutes, the Gladiators put their swords down and they too left.
All that remained in that giant stadium was the scrawny lifeless body of the young man.
History claims that this was the very last gladiator game at the Colosseum.
The memory of that man screaming to the crowd, and the image of the bloodthirsty lust of the crowd had changed the hearts and the minds of the Romans in that instant.
Within an hour, the emperor issued an edict forbidding any future games of war within the Roman Empire.
There was no more killing in the Colosseum.
There were no more gladiator matches in Rome.
All because one man, stood up, and said: “In the Name of Jesus, forbear!!”
Today, as Christians, we are challenged and demanded by our Blessed Lord:
“Are you willing to stand up for me?”
But we often find ourselves lost, and ask the Lord, “What shall we do?”
The Gospel of the Day throws light on this aspect – “What shall we do?”
We are on the third Sunday of the Season of Advent.
This is called the Gaudete Sunday – the Sunday of Joy.
We are more than halfway through the season in preparation for Christ.
Sometimes, like runners, in a marathon…
… we may feel tired of this preparation
… or we may think, when is the destination going to reach?
And so we may get wearied… tired… or feel exhausted.
But the Church, our caring Mother, knows Her children, and tells us…
“Just a few more days… and it will be Christmas!
Do not give up hope… Instead, continue to prepare…
In joy… in happiness… in expectancy…”
Thus, this Third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate as Gaudete (= Joyful, in Greek) Sunday.
On this Joyful Sunday, “What shall we do?” is the constant refrain that we encounter in the Gospel.
The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What then shall we do?” (Lk 3:10)
The tax-collectors asked John the Baptist, “Teacher, what shall we do?” (Lk 3:12)
The soldiers asked John the Baptist, “And we, what shall we do?” (Lk 3:14)
This then is what we also ask our Blessed Lord, as we come before Him, this 3rd Sunday of Advent – “What shall we do?”
And both – John the Baptist, the fore-runner and Jesus, the Messiah – are telling us:
“Repent of your sins”
… especially those to whom you have been clinging on for a long time
“Depend more on God’s Power”
… especially to many of us, who rely more on our own power and strength
“Take the Word of God more seriously
… especially by picking up the Bible more often, reading, meditating and living more in It
“Be more faithful to the Church”
… especially in times when there is a lot of criticism of the Church and there is a demand for loyalty and passion from the members themselves.
“Receive the Sacraments more frequently”
… especially to grow deeper in the love of God and become a God’s mighty witnesses in a world that often challenges the faith and dilutes the Gospel values
Let us give heed to the call of St John the Baptist and the love of Jesus, so that our preparation for Christmas, may truly become more meaningful and more worthy!
Thus, we can “stand up for Jesus” amid any difficulties and worries of life!
Yes, let us keep on cleansing our hearts so that our Blessed Lord can be born in us!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism
THE HIERARCHICAL CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH
It belongs to the sacramental nature of ecclesial ministry that it have a personal character. Although Christ’s ministers act in communion with one another, they also always act in a personal way.
Each one is called personally: “You, follow me” in order to be a personal witness within the common mission, to bear personal responsibility before him who gives the mission, acting “in his person” and for other persons: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …”; “I absolve you….”
Sacramental ministry in the Church, then, is at once a collegial and a personal service, exercised in the name of Christ.
This is evidenced by the bonds between the episcopal college and its head, the successor of St. Peter, and in the relationship between the bishop’s pastoral responsibility for his particular church and the common solicitude of the episcopal college for the universal Church. (CCC # 878-879)