Sunday Readings

Patience in the darkness. Third Sunday of Advent (A)

Joseph Evans comments on the readings for the Third Sunday of Advent and Luis Herrera offers a short video homily.

Joseph Evans-December 9, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes

While John was chained in Herod's dark and dank dungeon, the prophecy from Isaiah that we hear in this Sunday's readings must have been hard for him to believe: "The wilderness and the desert shall rejoice, the steppe shall be glad and blossom [...] with joy and songs of jubilation. He has been given the glory of Lebanon [...] They shall behold the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.". There, in those miserable depths, there were few evident signs of the glory and majesty of God. Would John think of these other words as the soldier went in to cut off his head: "Say to those who are troubled, 'Be strong, do not be afraid, behold your God! Vengeance is coming, the retribution of God. He is coming in person and will save you.'"? There was no obvious salvation.

Let's face it: Advent often sings of a joy that we do not see. "They shall enter Zion with songs of rejoicing; perpetual joy at the head; following them, joy and gladness, sorrow and affliction shall depart."

But, before he died, John had managed to send messengers to Jesus to ask him: "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?"Was John seeking his own benefit, was he beginning to have doubts, or was it for the sake of his disciples, to point them to Jesus since he, John, knew his own time on earth was running out? We will know in heaven; but Jesus pointed to the miracles he was performing, all of them signs that fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah as the one who would give sight to the blind, make the lame walk and the deaf hear, give life to the dead and preach to the poor. Our Lord then praised John the Baptist for his austerity of life: he had chosen poverty in food, clothing and housing. This fidelity had made him the greatest of all prophets.

And here's the thing: Advent is not yet the full revelation of God. It is the preparation for it. It has an element of darkness, even of dungeon. To triumph on earth - and to prepare for his final and definitive triumph - God needs faithful men and women who are willing to lose even their lives. They are Advent people, the other Johns, who are willing to sacrifice comfort, freedom, light and life to prepare the way for God. They become God's way, his highway, for him to travel. But being a highway is not comfortable: it involves being stepped on and exposed to the elements. God will eventually triumph, but only through the sacrifice and suffering of faithful souls, principally Christ himself and, in him, his martyrs. This requires much patience, as James explains in the second reading. Because John, in his chains and in his darkness, renounced the movement, the light and, finally, his life, others have come to walk, to see and to live.

Homily on the readings of Sunday III of Advent

The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaa small one-minute reflection for these readings.

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