Tuesday, December 6, 2016

3rd Sunday of Advent

Patience.  Good things are coming, and are almost here, so Rejoice!  This is Gaudete Sunday (from the Latin “to rejoice”), the Third Sunday of Advent.  We celebrate that we are now past the halfway point of the Advent season.  For this one day we put away the violet color of Advent and bring out the Rose colored vestments and décor.  We light the rose colored candle in our Advent wreaths as we joyfully count the remaining days to Christmas.  Our readings remind us of the good things to come, but good things only come to those who wait…


Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146, 6-7, 8-9, 9-10
James 5:7-10
Mathew 11:2-11

Our first reading, again, is from Isaiah.  Here the prophet sings of the great things to come, and the land itself will rejoice and bloom.  Isaiah goes to great lengths to paint us this glorious picture of Zion, but we must also recognize that this picture of salvation comes as destruction stands waiting at the gate.  King Hezekiah has the Assyrian forces knocking on his door, so in desperation he turns to the Isaiah to ask for the Lord’s help.  While the Lord rebukes Hezekiah, he also shows mercy to his people, reminding them of the glory that comes with the Lord.  Our Psalm reflects that glory, with the promise of food, health, and protection as we sing “Lord, come and save us”

Our second reading is from the letter of James.  James, who is leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem is addressing his letter to “the twelve tribes in the dispersion,” in other words, to those early Jewish Christians who have communities beyond Jerusalem.  Many of these early Christians are getting concerned that Jesus hasn’t yet returned as was promised, so James feels the need to give them some reassurance.  He tells them that just like a farmer must be patient for the rain, we too must be patient for the coming of the Lord.

Our gospel from Matthew We continues with the story of John the Baptist.  Now much later in Matthew’s narrative, John is in prison.  Perhaps sensing his own death to be coming soon, sends his followers to see if Jesus is indeed the one of whom he foretold.  Jesus tells John’s followers to report back what they have seen and heard, then turns to the crowd to speak of John as the one who was foretold, reminding them that John’s was that voice in the wilderness to announce the coming of the savior.  Not only does this message give John the comfort he seeks shortly before his execution, but it helps the people to see the legitimacy of Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, the Messiah promised by God.

Final thoughts:

On this Gaudete Sunday we are joyful that our patient, vigilant waiting for the Lord will be fulfilled.  We know this because the prophets have told us.  Prophets like those we heard from in our readings for this Sunday:  Isaiah, James, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself.  We too are also called to be prophets.  By virtue of our baptism we too are anointed priests, prophets, and kings.  It is our duty as Christians to speak out for what we know to be true… if not by our words, then certainly by our actions.  We are joyful this Sunday because we’ve heard the promise of the Lord, and our trust in the Lord tells us that these promises will be fulfilled.  Just be patient.

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