On this the third Sunday of Advent, the scripture begins with the wonderfully evocative Isaiah 35:1-10. It is difficult to read this passage without seeing what Isaiah is describing. Some of the images under “Eye Candy” reflect this. For many, nearly each verse evokes a Christmas song, looking forward to the coming Messiah. This passage describes just how much Christ can do when he comes to us. And in our Gospel, Jesus points John to this passage in response to John’s query. So as you read Isaiah, what joy do you feel secure in the knowledge of the coming of Christ?
Post your thoughts on our website.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. . . . They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. . . . Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. . . . He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. . . .”
From sermon4kids.com: “If you were blind, what better gift could you receive than to be able to see? If you were crippled, what better gift could you receive than to be able to walk? If you were dead, what better gift could you receive than the gift of life? Jesus is God’s gift to us. Jesus came to earth to give us life — eternal life! What a gift!”
Collect: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Reflection: What does the kingdom of heaven have to do with the signs that Jesus describes for John’s disciples: “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them” (Matt. 11:5)? Where have you seen or heard such things?
Practice: What do you do to be joyful? If you wish, post your comments to our website.
Saint Focus: Juan de la Cruz is the focus this week. At 17, he enrolled in Jesuit College. After a period he met Teresa of Avila and chose to adopt her stricter monastic rule; and he encouraged others to do so. He was ordained in 1567. Some who did not agree with his stricter rule kidnapped and imprisoned him for about 9 months. He wrote poetry during his imprisonment, which continues to inspire today. Dissension arose in the monastery between moderates and extremists. John was a moderate and so was transferred to a distant monastery where he fell sick and died. Read excerpts of his poetry. [from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 12; Francis de Sales, Bishop, & Jane de Chantal, Monastic, Workers of Charity, 1622 & 1641
- 13; Lucy (Lucia), Martyr at Syracuse, 304; AND Ella Baker, Social Reformer, 1986; AND Samuel Johnson, Priest, 1772
- 14; Juan de la Cruz (John of the Cross), Mystic, 1591; AND Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, Educator, 1906
- 15; Nino of Georgia, Missionary, c.332
- 17; Dorothy Sayers, Apologist & Spiritual Writer, 1957 AND Olympias, Deaconess, 408
image from Shutterstock
“i thank You God for most this amazing day for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
“(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings; and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
“how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any—lifted from the no of all nothing—human merely being doubt unimaginable you!
“(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)”
A propher of our generation is Nelson Mandela. Take a minute to look up Mr. Mandela’s life and powerful witness (or that of another modern day prophet). Here are some words of Mr. Mandela’s as an example:
“A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of.” Today’s epistle from James refers to patience, strengthening one’s heart, avoiding grumbling against one another, and looking to the prophets as examples. What can we learn from the prophets of scripture and from modern day prophetic voices like Nelson Mandela? How can their witness inform our own faith journey and willingness to give voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless? If you wish, share your thoughts on our website.
The Third Sunday of Advent again has as its central theme the ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus said of him, “Among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist…” In today’s Gospel, John, who has been imprisoned by Herod Antipas, is facing death and wishes to know before he dies that he was correct in identifying Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus’ reply is to quote from the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah, demonstrating that he is indeed fulfilling the Messiah’s ministry as Isaiah had foretold.
The Old Testament reading is the passage Jesus quotes in the Gospel reading. The sign of the Messiah is a new order of existence—God’s Kingdom—in which health and salvation spring forth. The second reading is a call to patient waiting for the Lord to appear to inaugurate the kingdom of God.
The distinction between John and even the least in the kingdom—ourselves—who are even greater, is that our birth is more than natural—it is the new birth by water and the spirit in Holy Baptism, which has made us members of the Body of Christ. We are commissioned for ministry in Baptism; a ministry like that of Jesus. In Holy Eucharist, we affirm our commitment to that ministry to all people, which is the ongoing sign of Christ in the world.
From The Rite Light: Reflections on the Sunday Readings and Seasons of the Church Year. Copyright © 2007 by Michael W. Merriman. Church Publishing Incorporated, New York.