Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.’
Sustain us, O God, with the power of your love
on our journey to meet the One who is coming:
strengthen our weak hands,
make firm our feeble knees,
and open blind eyes to the dawning of your
kingdom, so that our hearts may rejoice
as we behold the majesty of our God.
We ask this through your Son, our Lord Jesus
Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Isaiah 35:1-10
- The Song of Mary
- James 5:7-10
- Matthew 11:2-11
- Isaiah 7:10-16
- Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
- Romans 1:1-7
- Matthew 1:18-25
Third Sunday of Advent
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: 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.”
The picture of John the Baptiser in today’s Gospel is quite different from last Sunday’s thundering, charismatic figure preaching to the crowds along the Jordan. John has been imprisoned by Herod for publicly denouncing the king’s incestuous marriage to Herodias. Left to waste away in prison, John knew that his end was near. John had staked his life on proclaiming the coming of the Messiah, and his witness will soon cost him his life. Like any human being, John had to wonder if he had been deluding himself. John and the people of Judaism had been expecting a much different kind of Messiah than the gentle, humble Worker of wonders from Nazareth. And so, John sends friends to ask Jesus if he is, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah.
Jesus sends the messengers back to John to report all they have seen Jesus do, fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah and the prophets of old. While praising John for his faithful witness to the Messiah, Jesus tells his followers that great things will come to all who become prophets of the reign of God.
Advent/Christmas is the season of hope: The birth of Christ restores our dreams for “blossoming deserts” (Reading 1) and new harvests, for renewed relationships with God and with one another.
The Christ of Christmas comes to heal the divisions among families and friends, to re-create our world in the mercy and justice of the Messiah, to renew our lives in the joy and hope of the God of unimaginably endless love.
John’s question, Are you the Messiah?, confronts us with the apparent silence of God in our secular, amoral society. We must come to recognize the Messiah in the humble, merciful, liberating person of Jesus, the healer and reconciler.
The question Jesus pose – What did you go out to the desert to see? – challenges us to take on the hard and never-ending Advent work of conversion and re-creation, of rediscovering what we want our lives to be for and about. © Connections/MediaWorks
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