Live a Good Life in Praise of God's Grace
With a Life of Virtue Welcome God's Coming

First Reading (Bar 5: 1-9): God wanted to lead the Israelites back to the Promised Land
Second Reading (Phil 1: 4-6, 8-11) To have true knowledge we must recognize God
Gospel (Lk 3: 1-6): John the Baptist preached along the Jordan River
Chinese classics:
-“The highest level of filial piety is to respect one's parents. Second is not to shame them. Third is to support them.” (1)
-“Our good name is the glory of our parents.” (2)

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1: 4-11, summary)

In this passage Paul emphasizes three points:
1) He hopes the Philippian Christians can live a full, vibrant life of faith, growing in love with full knowledge and perfect judgment, choose what is best at all times, and be free from all impurity and blame.
2) Such a life must be maintained throughout one's entire life. They must strive valiantly for this always and perseveringly until the day when Christ returns..
3) To live in this way is for the honor of God, so that God will receive glory and praise.

Advent is a time of preparation, an important time during which we prepare to welcome Christ and await his coming. In today's Gospel Luke reminds us that now is the time to “prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth.” (Lk 3: 4-5) For this we need to remove all obstacles that hinder us, so that we can receive Christ into our
hearts and lives. .

Note that in the two Scripture passages quoted above we do not see mentioned any of the traditional admonitions such as attending Mass, reciting prayers or other forms of prayer, taking part in retreats, etc. In today's Scripture, when speaking about ways to receive Christ at his birth, the emphasis does not seem to be on traditional acts of piety.

Of course this does not mean we do not need to perform such acts of piety. So what should we do? In the end, do fervent pious acts have any important relation to the Advent season? Do we still need to participate in Mass more often, pray more, sacrifice more, prepare ourselves to receive Christ when he comes? The teaching of Scripture is clear: we must prepare ourselves to receive Christ. But the best preparation is to live a pure and holy life, that is, to live according to the will of God, in Christ and under the guiding power of the Holy Spirit. We can only 'glorify and praise God' by living a pure and holy life.

Children's achievements honour their parents; students honour their teachers and school when they receive praise for some achievement in society. If you go to a foreign country, your behavior is not just a private matter, your whole country is judged by your actions. It is not your actions that are examined, rather, people say, 'What kind of people are these Chinese?'

God is the Creator of life. We come from God and one day we will return to God. So we should use our life now to give glory to God. There is a phrase in Latin: 'Gloria Dei, Homo vivens ' -"The glory of God is man fully alive.". That is to say, a person who leads a vivacious and wholesome life, full of vigour and enthusiasm, is an honour to God. We do not honour God with our tongues, but with our whole being - we can only glorify God with our entire life.

This lively and vital person of course is not like one who acts half-dead but rather like one described in the Letter to the Philippians: “one whose love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help determine what is best, and that one may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness.

Zeng Zi's 'Filial Piety' describes three ordinary types of filial piety “The highest type of filial piety is to respect one's parents. Second is not to shame them. Third is to support them.”(1)

Zeng Zi thought that the greatest kind of filial piety was to respect one's parents. In particular, if through our accomplishments in society we can glorify our ancestors, it would exemplify the saying, “Our good name is the glory of our parents,” (2) This is something traditional Chinese families yearned for, the greatest glory parents could enjoy and the greatest act of filial piety children could show their parents.

The next type of filial piety was expressed in a negative tone, warning children against wrong-doing, putting their parents to shame, or humiliating their parents.
This was also an important part of filial piety. To support one's parents, provide for them, and perform their burial rites is only the third type of filial piety (though it is also important).

Our prayers, retreats, participation in Mass or performance of other pious acts, cannot glorify God unless these religious acts help us live a life of greater fullness and depth. Or if through these acts we come into contact with God who is the source of life and our lives become full of vitality. Only then can we say that our acts of piety can glorify God.

So let us with great sincerity live lives of holiness in order to prepare to receive Christ when he comes again, and so give glory to our Father in heaven.

(2) 揚名聲、顯父母。