Thoughts on the Readings for the Third Sunday of Advent (C) 2020

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  http://usccb.org/bible/readings/121519.cfm 

This Sunday we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of the season of Advent.   Our Gospel this weekend comes in two parts.  In the first section, once again we encounter John the Baptist.   This time, though, John is in prison and will soon face death.   Given this, he is concerned whether Jesus was indeed the “one who is to come.”   At first glance, this question from John may seem strange, but I suspect that as John approached death he wanted to be sure that his mission had not been for naught.   In response, Jesus does not give a yes or no answer.  Instead he said:  “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 we will see in our first reading for this weekend, these are all signs of God’s grace and favor --- and a promise of hope for the future. 

In the second section of this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus “began to speak to the crowds about John.”   He concludes by saying:  “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.”  

Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.   At the time of this prophecy the Jewish people had been conquered in the north by the Assyrians and in the south by the Babylonians.   Isaiah speaks words of comfort and hope to this conquered people, reminding them there will come a time of vindication when all with see the “glory of the Lord” when God will come “with vindication.”   The signs of the Lord’s return will be the very signs Jesus mentioned in our Gospel today:  “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.”   

Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Letter of James.   In it James urges:  “You too must be patient.  Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”    While this sentence reflects the early church’s belief that the return of Christ was imminent, it reminds us today that we are called to wait patiently for the Lord’s coming --- whenever that may occur. 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. I suspect there are times for each of us when, like John, we wonder whether our lives are on the right course.   Who do you look to for guidance at these times?
  2. What signs of God’s Kingdom do you see in the world around you?   
  3. How do we wait patiently for the Lord’s coming?     
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