Give joy and thanksgiving this Advent Print E-mail
Sunday scripture column

Jem Sullivan

Sunday, Dec. 16

Third Sunday of Advent

Zep 3:14-18
Is 12:2-6
Phil 4:4-7
Lk 3:10-18

For a Christian, thanksgiving is not just an annual holiday but a daily attitude of life. For God became one of us, in humble self-emptying, to reconcile each one of us to God’s love and mercy. For this act of undeserved and unmerited divine love, we never exhaust the depths of our gratitude to God.

On the third Sunday of Advent, traditionally known an “Gaudete Sunday,” the readings of Scripture invite us to recapture that deep Christian spirit of gratitude expressed in deeds of justice and charity.

As we give thanks to God, we discover the deep hope of Advent in God’s renewed coming into our families, homes, and lives.

One of the first phrases parents teach a child to say is, “thank you.” And public expressions of gratitude are often on display during award ceremonies when people receiving awards deliver short or long acceptance speeches.

Overjoyed winners often list, with gratitude, those in their professional and personal lives who made it possible for them to achieve success and fame. Many are quick to admit that they could not thank everyone who is truly deserving of their gratitude.

When it comes to expressing our gratitude to God, there are never-ending opportunities to lift our hearts and minds to God. There is no limit to what we can thank God for since all of creation comes from His loving hand. Everywhere we look, we discover some sign of God’s generous care.

Perhaps this is why St. Paul urges the Philippians with such confidence by saying, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: Rejoice!”

It’s not too late to begin the spiritual preparations of Advent. Give God thanks for the small and large gifts of daily life as a way to get back on the spiritual track of Advent.

Jem Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.