Gospel Reflections

3rd Sunday of Advent

Luke 3:1-6

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Marna Rogers

Published: December 13, 2015

Read Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch... Read More…

 “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it…”  Pope Francis, LAUDATO SI  #229, ln.1

The crowd asked a wide open question of John the Baptist. In previous verses, John had called them a brood of vipers, and asked what had driven them to him, in great numbers, from a perceived coming wrath. Then he had a free-ranging conversation with them. For each group of people in service to the community, John had an ethical place out of which they were to do their work:

  • for ordinary people, if you have two tunics, give one to another in need;
  • if you have food and someone does not, provide that person with sustenance;
  • if you are a tax collector, collect only what is just;
  • if you are a soldier, do not extort money;
  • do not give false witness against someone;
  • be content with the pay given.  

In other words do not do anything which would fracture the relationships you have with others who depend on you.

John knew what was in their hearts about their thinking that he was the Messiah.  Then he presented Jesus, as the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.


  • When I first read this text, I thought of Pope Francis, and his engagement with the crowds who gather to see him, and then I recalled the seven couples and families who spoke to him quite personally and publically in Philadelphia, PA during his visit to the United States, at the International Family Conference. Whatever the Pope heard in those testimonies, he did not follow a script completely and gave a passionate talk about love (being loved, being a loving person, loving others, how love shapes us, and what love exacts from us).
  • I also found my mind wandering to the shores of Lesbos and all the transit points where the refugees from Syria and other places were landing.
  • One voice reminded me of John.  It is Angela Merkel. I believe her call came after the lifeless body of a young boy was found on the beach. The young soldier who carried him from the water must still feel the weight of that little boy in his arms.  His work at the shore has forever changed him.
  • But I also wondered how others, not in the midst of the crowds, heard her plea for compassion, assistance, making room, providing clear and consistent guidelines for the refugees’  transit processes.


The photos in the media stay with me. The words say the refugees care for one another. Some villages through which they pass, extend hospitality and real kindness. The children especially, whose long days of journeying ask so much of them…as young as they are, seem to have extraordinary resilience. But as the weather changes and their journeys take other turns, how will we, and our governments, respond?

In North America, on our border with Latin America, laws sometimes are not honored, as the children who came in 2013 in huge numbers, can attest. Only recently, their plight in camps and holding areas has been addressed, and they are now moved to be with their families here.

On this Gaudete Sunday, joy is the exhortation as Mass begins. We rejoice when good people respond, in their best selves, for those whose needs cry out to us. As John lived in the shadow of Herod’s wrath and yet preached with great abandon, may our own courage allow us to do the same, in the face of a resistance to embrace the stranger, whose many gifts hold the possibility of enriching our world.  Witnessing a thirst for a life which cannot be thwarted by any danger, we hear a call which beckons us beyond our own borders.


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