Thoughts on the Readings for the 3rd Sunday of Advent (A) 2014

Readings:          Isaiah 35: 1-6a; 10          James 5: 7-10          Matthew 11: 2-11

This weekend we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent.  And again this weekend, we encounter John the Baptist.  This shouldn’t surprise us as John is a major figure during the season of Advent.   In our Gospel last weekend we heard John’s message to “repent.”  In our Gospel this weekend we find John near the end of his life.  He has sent his disciples to Jesus to ask him:  “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”   Jesus did not respond with a simple yes or no answer.  Instead he told John’s disciples: “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.”   As they were going off we are told that Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John.  His final words are important.  “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”  

There are two things to note about this Gospel.  First, it shouldn’t surprise us that John the Baptist inquired about Jesus.  John after all is in prison and thus hasn’t had any first hand experience of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ response to John’s query gently reminded him that he was doing the very things that the prophet Isaiah had said the Messiah would do.  The second thing to note in this Gospel is Jesus’ words about John.  They speak of the respect and love he had for John and they remind us that this same love is offered to all of us.   

In our first reading this weekend from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we find the prophecy that Jesus referred to in our Gospel today.  “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will speak.   Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy………”  

Our second reading this weekend is taken from the Letter of Saint James.  This will be the only time we read from James during this liturgical year.   In this reading, James encourages us to “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord ………………… Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. If someone asked you if you were a follower of Jesus what actions would you point to as proof that you were a disciple? 
  2. Where do your eyes need to be opened, you ears cleared and your tongue loosened during this season of Advent?    
  3. Where do you need to be more patient during this season of Advent? 

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