Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2022
Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10 James 5:7-10 Matthew 11:2-11
Not long ago I was asked to do a webinar on the spirituality of “Shaping the Future of Catechesis” (Religious Education). I was given about 45 minutes and asked to talk about important spiritual qualities to bring to such an endeavor. After considerable thought and prayer, I decided to focus on two in particular, Hope and Joy. Imagine my surprise when I read the readings for this Third Sunday of Advent - and found that they featured the virtues of Hope and Joy! It seems the Holy Spirit has been giving me some “spiritual nudges” all along.
The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, strikes a decidedly hopeful note as it presents many wonderful references to new life and a more complete life for all of creation - including us! That same hope and joy are realized in today’s Gospel from Matthew - in almost the identical words we see in the first reading, from Isaiah. “The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” Isaiah’s prophecy comes to pass…a prophecy that the people waited hundreds of years to witness. The hoped for Messiah has come, in the flesh, yet many people did not recognize him, or refused to acknowledge him.
Each year at this time we are reminded, once again, that God chose to be born into this world of ours to show us how to live. In the person of Jesus Christ he came to teach us, to MENTOR us. In the spiritual sense, a mentor is the ultimate teacher, a special guide who accepts the role of nurturing the pupil, teaching her/him how to live and how to love - for love is the very heart of living, the very heart of God. Jesus was and is the ultimate mentor! And each year our loving God reminds us that God will do anything to show the depth of his love, even to the point of being born, suffering, and dying - and rising from the dead.
Our Lord is the fulfillment of our hope and the source of our joy. Today, on Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, we are invited to let our joy show. We are happy as we once again anticipate the celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. With that joy comes responsibility. How will we demonstrate, by the way we live our lives, that the great feast of the Nativity, which is just around the corner, really does mean something to us; beyond the hype of gift-giving, twinkling lights and holiday parties. We are, each and every one of us, called to Stop what you’re doing, Look into our hearts and Listen to what the Lord has to say about the true meaning of Christmas…and the responsibility that comes with it.
by: Bill Miller