3rd Sunday of Advent
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 12, 2021
I remember the first Confession I had as a priest about 31 years ago. After our ordination, one of our classmates was being ordained in Vancouver, so we went out to support him. We were staying in a rectory of a local church and the pastor asked me to take confessions for him on Saturday. The first man that came in was very serious and he asked me, “What do I need to do to have inner peace?” How would you answer that question? What do I need to do to have inner peace?
The crowds coming to John the Baptist were in a sense asking him the same question. Those coming to John asked him, “What should we do?” John simply answers, Share. The tax collectors also asked him, “What should we do?” John simply answers, Do not cheat people. Some soldiers also asked him, “What should we do?” John simply answers, Do not abuse your power. Basically, John gives a message against corruption in whatever profession and in whatever position we are in. What a difference it would make in our world if we human beings shared and rejected corruption. Peace would be found in our world.
Paul in our second reading today in his letter to the Philippians also provides some direction to finding inner peace. Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.” Then, “let your gentleness be known to everyone.” Paul concludes by saying, “And the peace of God,…, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If we long for that inner peace, the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds, then what do we need to do?
First, Rejoice in the Lord always. We need to make an effort to rejoice in the Lord. When we do not feel like rejoicing, we need to push ourselves to rejoice anyways. If we spend our time complaining, focused on regrets, angry, rooted in resentments, feeling sorry for ourselves, then we will have a difficult time having the peace of God. So, be sure to rejoice even when you do not feel like it. The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile is the source of your joy.” Be people who rejoice in the Lord.
Second, be a gentle person. Be with others in a way that is really gentle. When we act with gentleness, when we treat and speak to others with gentleness, it changes us within. Being gentle to others leads to peace within ourselves.
What do I need to do to have inner peace? What should we do? John the Baptist and Paul gives some basic answers. Share. Do not abuse your position or power, do not be corrupt in any way. Rejoice always, even when grieving, sad, hurting. Be gentle.
Someone who is sharing with others, not being corrupt, choosing to rejoice and being gentle, is someone who will have inner peace.