3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A
Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10 (Isaiah 35:4)
December 15, 2019
“Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord.” These are the words that begin our second reading today.
We hear them as we approach our celebration of the First Coming of Jesus at Christmas. It is the First Coming that prophets like Isaiah spoke of. Isaiah foretold the coming of a messiah over 600 years before Jesus’ birth. The prophets had to be patient in waiting for what did not happen in their lifetime.
John the Baptist came to “prepare the way of the Lord.” He did not have to wait long. Jesus was born six months after him.
What did John’s work to “prepare the way of the Lord” get him? Fame? No, he drew much attention but he ended up in prison for his ministry. He didn’t even get to see Jesus’ ministry himself.
He did, at least, get to hear of Jesus from prison. However, he was surprised at what he heard. Like many others, he expected a messiah that would come to rule and judge. That is not what Jesus did.
So, John the Baptist, “sent his disciples to Jesus” to ask if He is “the one who is to come, or should we look for another?””
Jesus response is to speak of those He has healed, the blind, lame, lepers, deaf, and how “the dead are raised.” Why does Jesus speak of this? He knows the people have been expecting a messiah to be a great king and judge. That does not mean Jesus is not the one. He points to the miracles to show how He fulfills prophecies like what we hear from Isaiah today, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap” as well as the Psalm echoing similar healings and the Lord’s care for us.
Then three times Jesus asks those around him “about John…what did you go out to see?” Many went to see what John the Baptist was doing, drawn to him as a prophet. Jesus points them to how John fulfills the prophecies of the “messenger” who is sent ahead of him.
It is a time to “rejoice” as the prophecies about John and Jesus are both fulfilled. Hearing this good news in the readings, we call today “Gaudete Sunday,” Gaudete meaning “rejoice.”
It reminds of the hope we can have with what we celebrate at Christmas. We are not there yet. We still have to wait. Advent is a time to patient for “the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
We might think of Advent as time spent in the desert waiting for Isaiah writes as “They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.”
How are you doing in your waiting for Christmas? Are you ready? Are you anxious? Or do all the preparations and spending got you down?
Remember to take time to think about what Christmas is really about. For many, it becomes all about the material gifts. The gifts can represent the true spirit of Christmas that is love, not possession. The love is what gives us hope.
Advent is also a time for us to think about our waiting for the Second Coming. This is actually the “coming of the Lord” that James speaks about in the second reading (remember the First Coming had already happened. James was a disciple of Jesus).
The people who in lived in the generation right after Jesus expected the Second Coming to happen immediately. This is the waiting for which James writes, “You too must be patient.”
At the Second Coming, as Isaiah writes, “they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.” If one expects Jesus to come in judgment, one might fear the Second Coming. However, if one has strived to live as Jesus teaches, we don’t have to fear the Second Coming because we know if we repent Jesus takes the judgment (hence the punishment for our sins) upon himself. So, we can look forward with hope to the Second Coming.
The early disciples after Jesus’ death and Resurrection looked forward to the Second Coming but when it did not happen, their patient began to dwindle. Now, many have seemed to lost any expectation that God even exists, let alone awaiting a Second Coming.
Do NOT lose hope. Jesus came at the First Coming and He will come again. You know this in your heart. Spread the love of Jesus.