Suy Niệm – Chúa Nhật 3 Mùa Vọng – December 16 – Năm C
Suy Niệm: Dân chúng tuôn đến với Gioan và xin ông chỉ giáo cho phải làm gì để được đón nhận ơn cứu độ.
Tôi phải làm gì? Ðó có phải là câu hỏi luôn cật vấn tôi không? Tôi có luôn trở về với lòng mình để tự kiểm điểm trước những hành động của mình không? Tôi có áy náy trước điều không được làm mà tôi cứ làm không? Tôi có lo toan trước việc phải làm mà tôi chưa làm không?
Phải luôn tự hỏi mình: Tôi phải làm gì để được đón nhận Tin Mừng.
Cầu Nguyện: Lạy Chúa Giêsu, như Gioan hướng dẫn từng giới để biết chu toàn nhiệm vụ của mình và sống tương quan tốt với tha nhân. Ngày nay Lời Chúa cũng luôn hối thúc trong lương tâm chúng con, trong Kinh Thánh mà chúng con suy niệm hằng ngày. Xin cho chúng con biết lắng nghe và đón nhận Lời Chúa. Amen.
Chúa Nhật 3 Mùa Vọng – Năm C
Bài Ðọc I: Xp 3, 14-18a “Chúa sẽ hân hoan vì người”.
Trích sách Tiên tri Xôphônia.
Hỡi thiếu nữ Sion, hãy cất tiếng ca! Hỡi Israel, hãy hoan hỉ! Hỡi thiếu nữ Giêrusalem, hãy hân hoan và nhảy mừng hết tâm hồn! Chúa đã rút lại lời kết án ngươi và đã đẩy lui quân thù của ngươi. Vua Israel là Chúa ở giữa ngươi, ngươi không còn sợ khổ cực nữa.
Trong ngày đó, ở Giêrusalem thiên hạ sẽ nói rằng: Hỡi Sion, đừng sợ, tay ngươi sẽ hết rã rời! Chúa là Thiên Chúa ngươi, là Ðấng mạnh mẽ ở giữa ngươi, chính Người cứu thoát ngươi. Người hân hoan vui mừng vì ngươi. Người cảm động yêu thương ngươi, và vì ngươi, Người sung sướng reo mừng. Những kẻ hư hỏng bỏ lề luật, Ta sẽ quy tụ họ lại, vì họ cũng là con cái ngươi. Ðó là lời Chúa.
Ðáp Ca: Is 12, 2-3. 4bcd. 5-6
Ðáp: Hãy nhảy mừng và ca ngợi, vì ở giữa ngươi có Ðấng Thánh của Israel thật cao cả (c. 6).
Xướng: 1) Ðây Thiên Chúa, Ðấng Cứu Chuộc tôi. Tôi sẽ tin tưởng mà hành động, tôi không run sợ: vì Thiên Chúa là sức mạnh của tôi và là Ðấng tôi ca ngợi. Người trở nên phần rỗi của tôi. – Ðáp.
2) Các ngươi sẽ hân hoan múc nước nơi suối Ðấng cứu độ: Hãy tung hô Chúa, hãy kêu cầu thánh danh Người, hãy công bố cho các dân tộc biết các kỳ công của Người, hãy nhớ rằng danh Người rất cao trọng. – Ðáp.
3) Hãy hát mừng Chúa, vì Người đã làm những việc cả thể, hãy công bố việc này trên khắp địa cầu. Hỡi dân Sion, hãy nhảy mừng và ca ngợi, vì ở giữa ngươi, có Ðấng Thánh của Israel thật cao cả. – Ðáp.
Bài Ðọc II: Pl 4, 4-7 “Chúa gần đến”.
Trích thơ Thánh Phaolô Tông đồ gởi tín hữu Philipphê.
Anh em thân mến, anh em hãy vui luôn trong Chúa! Tôi nhắc lại một lần nữa: anh em hãy vui lên! Ðức ôn hoà của anh em phải sáng tỏ trước mặt mọi người, vì Chúa đã gần đến. Anh em đừng lo lắng gì hết, nhưng trong khi cầu nguyện, anh em hãy trình bày những ước vọng lên cùng Chúa, bằng kinh nguyện và lời cầu xin đi đôi với lời cảm tạ. Và bình an của Thiên Chúa vượt mọi trí hiểu, sẽ giữ gìn lòng trí anh em trong Chúa Giêsu Kitô. Ðó là lời Chúa.
Alleluia: Is 61, 1 (x. Lc 1, 18)
Alleluia, alleluia! – Thánh Thần Chúa ngự trên tôi. Người đã sai tôi đem tin mừng cho người nghèo khó. – Alleluia.
Phúc Âm: Lc 3, 10-18 “Còn chúng tôi, chúng tôi phải làm gì?”
Tin Mừng Chúa Giêsu Kitô theo Thánh Luca.
Khi ấy, dân chúng hỏi Gioan rằng: “Vậy chúng tôi phải làm gì?” Ông trả lời: “Ai có hai áo, hãy cho người không có; ai có của ăn, cũng hãy làm như vậy”. Cả những người thu thuế cũng đến xin chịu phép rửa và thưa rằng: “Thưa Thầy, chúng tôi phải làm gì?” Gioan đáp: “Các ngươi đừng đòi gì quá mức đã ấn định cho các ngươi”. Các quân nhân cũng hỏi: “Còn chúng tôi, chúng tôi phải làm gì?” Ông đáp: “Ðừng ức hiếp ai, đừng cáo gian ai; các ngươi hãy bằng lòng với số lương của mình”.
Vì dân chúng đang mong đợi và mọi người tự hỏi trong lòng về Gioan rằng: “Có phải chính ông là Ðức Kitô chăng?” Gioan trả lời cho mọi người rằng: “Tôi lấy nước mà rửa các ngươi, nhưng Ðấng quyền năng hơn tôi sẽ đến, – tôi không xứng đáng cởi dây giày cho Người, – chính Người sẽ rửa các ngươi trong Chúa Thánh Thần và lửa. Người cầm nia trong tay mà sảy sân lúa của Người, rồi thu lúa vào kho, còn rơm thì đốt đi trong lửa không hề tắt!” Ông còn khuyên họ nhiều điều nữa khi rao giảng tin mừng cho dân chúng. Ðó là lời Chúa.
Gospel Lk 3: 10-18
The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”
Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.
Daily Reading & Meditation
10 And the multitudes asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than is appointed you.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” 15 As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 18 So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people.
Old Testament Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18
14 Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. 16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. 17 The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing 18 as on a day of festival.
Meditation: Why did thousands come out to hear John the Baptist preach? And what was so unusual about his message? When John the Baptist appeared on the public scene and began to prophesy the whole nation of Israel took notice. It had been many hundreds of years since a prophet had spoken out and performed signs in the land of Israel. John broke the long silence with the sudden announcement that the Messiah (God’s Anointed One) was about to appear. God had long ago promised his people through the patriarchs of the old covenant (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), and through the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, etc.) and rulers of Israel (Moses, David), that he would send them a Redeemer who would save them from their sins, free them from oppression, fill them with the joy of his presence (Zephaniah 3:17), and bring them his everlasting kingdom of peace and righteousness.
John brought ‘good news’ to the people
The people recognized that John was an extraordinary man of God and a true prophet who spoke in God’s name. They came out to hear the “good news” (Luke 3:18) which he preached to them. And they willingly submitted to his baptism of repentance at the River Jordan where he preached. John’s task was to wake people up from spiritual sleep and indifference, and to turn them back to hear God’s voice and obey his commandments. John wanted the people to be in a good place to receive the Messiah and follow him.
Luke mentions two groups in particular who came to John for spiritual renewal – tax collectors and Jewish soldiers who belonged to the Roman peace-keeping force. Both groups were regarded as being spiritually unfit and unclean by the Jewish authorities and were treated as outcasts. John welcomed them with open arms along with all the multitude of people who came to hear the “good news” and be baptized in the cleansing waters of the River Jordan.
John’s message of repentance
John’s message of renewal and repentance was very practical. He told the people three things: First, every follower of God must share what they possess (their personal goods and resources) with their neighbors, especially with those who lacked the basic necessities of life. John recognized that this was a key duty for every individual and an outward expression of the great commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18).
Second, John pointed out the sacred duty to give each and every person what is their due and to not take from them what rightfully belongs to them. God commands that each person be treated with respect and that honor be given where honor is due. John told the tax collectors that they must not coerce people to pay more tax money than what was rightfully due. (Tax collectors often made handsome profits for themselves by overcharging other people.) John instructed soldiers to not abuse their authority or power to compel people to give or do things for them beyond what was rightful and their due. (It was not uncommon for soldiers to abuse their position to force people to carry their heavy equipment for them or to rob them of their goods.) John did not tell them to leave their profession, but to be good, honest, and respectful soldiers.
And thirdly, John exhorted his listeners to be content with what they had and to avoid coveting (wrongfully desiring or acquiring) what belonged to others. John basically called the people to turn back to God and to walk in his way of love and righteousness.
The word of God has power to transform us
Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed it has power to awaken faith in people who will listen and turn to God. God, in turn, is always ready to open our eyes to the spiritual reality of his kingdom and to the power and action of the Holy Spirit who transforms us into the likeness of Christ. Do you believe that God’s word is “good news” for you? And do you allow his word to take root and grow in you, and bring you the fruit of joy, freedom, and new life in the Holy Spirit?
John’s message of “good news” aroused in many people a new hope and joyful expectation that this was now the decisive moment for God’s Anointed One (the long-expected Messiah and Savior of Israel) to come with power, justice, and judgment to establish his reign of peace and righteousness. Many wondered aloud if John himself might be the promised Messiah, the one who would deliver them from oppression.
John’s response was loud and clear – he was only the herald’s voice who prepares the way for the Messiah’s coming. When John compared his position with the Messiah, John humbly stated that he considered himself lower than the lowest slave. His task was simply to awaken the interest of his people for God’s word, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive the Messiah when he came. With John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to the human race of the “divine likeness,” prefiguring what would be achieved through and in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Messiah will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire
John’s baptism was for repentance – turning away from sin and taking on a new way of life according to God’s word. John said that the Messiah would “baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Fire in biblical times was associated with God and with his action in the world and in the lives of his people. God sometimes manifested his presence by use of fire, such as the burning bush which was not consumed when God spoke to Moses (Exodus 3:2). The image of fire was also used to symbolize God’s glory (Ezekiel 1:4, 13), his protective presence (2 Kings 6:17), his holiness (Deuteronomy. 4:24), his righteous judgment (Zechariah 13:9), and his wrath against sin (Isaiah 66:15-16).
John expanded this image with the illustration of the process of separating wheat from chaff. A winnowing fan or shovel was used for tossing the wheat in the air. The heavier kernels of wheat fell to the ground, while the lighter chaff was carried off by the wind. The chaff was then collected and used for fuel (see Isaiah 21:10).
The fire of the Holy Spirit
In the New Testament, the image of fire is also used of the Holy Spirit who comes to cleanse us from sin and make us holy (Matthew 3:11 and Acts 2:3). God’s fire both purifies us of sin and it inspires in us a reverent fear of God and of his word. And it increases our desire for holiness and for the joy of meeting the Lord when he comes again.
Do you want to be on fire for God and for the return of the Lord Jesus when he comes in his glory? Our baptism in Jesus Christ by water and the Spirit results in a new birth and entry into God’s kingdom as his beloved sons and daughters (John 3:5). Jesus is ready to give us the fire of his Spirit that we may radiate the joy of the Gospel to a world in desperate need of God’s light and truth. The word of God has power to change and transform our lives that we may be lights pointing others to Jesus Christ, the true light of the world (John 8:12). Like John the Baptist, we too are called to give testimony to the light and truth of Jesus Christ. Do you point others to Jesus Christ in the way you speak and live?
“Lord Jesus, let your light burn brightly in my heart that I may know the joy and freedom of your kingdom. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me to witness the truth of your gospel and to point others to the light of Christ.”
5 Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign for ever, thy God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Jesus baptizes Christians with the Holy Spirit and fire, by Cyril of Jerusalem, 430-543 A.D.
“John, filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, was sanctified for the purpose of baptizing the Lord. John himself did not impart the Spirit but preached the glad tidings of him who does. He says, ‘I indeed baptize you with water, for repentance. But he who is coming after me, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Luke 3:16, Matthew 3:11). Why fire? Because the descent of the Holy Spirit was in fiery tongues [at Pentecost Acts 2:3]. Concerning this the Lord says with joy, ‘I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish that it would be kindled!’ (Luke 12:49)” (excerpt from CATECHETICAL LECTURES 17.8)
March 18, 2019