(Adults, in the Gospel for this Sunday the people ask John what they must do to prepare. For the youngest children, it is not important to ask this sort of question. They are in that idyllic time of enjoying their relationship with God. They simply ask in their hearts, who are you, God, and who am I with you? As always, this reflection seeks to lift up God's answers to these questions in the scripture.)
This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent. We light the pink candle on the Advent wreathe. Pink is the colour for joy—that feeling of goodness and happiness that bubbles up inside of us. We cannot keep it in. Joy squeezes out of the dimples in our cheeks; it springs out of our fingertips as we sing "Alleluia!" Why, on this third Sunday of Advent, do we remember our joy?
In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear again about John the Baptist and the people who have come to the river to be baptized. Jesus is a grown man, he is coming to be baptized, too, but he has not yet arrived. The people do not know him yet. They are dripping wet from their baptism, and they are wondering. What are they wondering about?
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah
The people are wondering about John the Baptist. They feel so good after their baptism. They feel closer to God. They wonder if John the Baptist is the Messiah, the One chosen by God. They wonder if he is the Light of the World.
But John the Baptist says,
“I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming;
Someone else is coming, John the Baptist says, someone who is more powerful than John. What kind of power does he mean?
We wonder if John the Baptist is thinking about the power of the Light to shoo away the darkness so that we can be not afraid.
We wonder if John the Baptist is thinking about the power of the Light to brighten the darkness so we know where we are going.
We wonder if John the Baptist is thinking about the power of the Light to bring us great joy!
Who is the person with this power? The people do not know, but we know more than they do! It is Jesus, the Light of the World.
John the Baptist says,
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
John the Baptist tells the people that Jesus will baptize. But we are already baptized! We know more than John the Baptist and the people. Jesus has done this already.
Jesus baptizes—not just with water—but with the Holy Spirit and fire. How does he do this?
When we are baptized, water is poured over our head three times. What kind of water is used to baptize us? John the Baptist uses water from the river Jordan to baptize, but Jesus uses the Holy Spirit. Before the water is poured on our head, the priest stretches out a hand over the water, asking God to send a gift down to fill the water. Who can that gift be?
The Holy Spirit fills the waters of Baptism.
After we are baptized, our family gathers around the great Paschal candle, the biggest candle in the church, the candle that belongs to Jesus. A little candle is lit from this greatest candle and is given to us. We share the Light of Jesus. We are the light of the world, too!
Could this be why we celebrate our joy this Sunday? Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit! We share the Light of Jesus and we are the light of the world, too! Our joy bubbles up inside us and we cannot keep it in! We sing, "Alleluia!"