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The Third Sunday of Advent

Readings: IS 35:1-6A, 10; PS 146: 6-10; JAS 5: 7-10; MT 11: 2-11.

December 11, 2013

In Chapter 50 of Isaiah, the prophet says he has been given a well-trained tongue, to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. In this season of Advent, the readings we are given to hear today do indeed have words that rouse feelings and responses in us as we approach the great feast of the Incarnation at Christmas.

The first reading from Isaiah calls for JOY -- reflecting on the joy of the Israelites who were set free from exile in Babylon.  Ours is a God who comes to save us.  In Advent, we are reminded of the saving grace of God in our world, in our lives.  May joy, true joy, rise up in us at the recognition of the goodness of God.  This JOY is not to deny human pain, sorrow, violence, poverty; but to live with renewed hope and joy.

The Letter of James has become quite familiar to us with its call for us to be PATIENT!  This is no small task, as we have grown accustomed to so many "instant" ways to meet our wants and needs; our culture has made us believe that we don't have to wait for anything. Thus, we grow more and more impatient with any sort of waiting. This can be as simple as waiting for a red light to change, food to be served in a restaurant, or waiting for an appointment; or patience can be as difficult as waiting for a diagnosis, or news of a loved one from a faraway place, or for death to finally come after a long illness.

James provides us the model of the farmer, who certainly plays his/her role in preparing fields and planting a crop.  The farmer does all he/she can; but is dependent on the rain and the sun to give growth.  And so, the farmer waits patiently for the yield of the soil.  Patient waiting does not mean passive waiting, but active, attentive watching.  Just so, we must do all that we can to live the Gospel life, to spend our own gifts for the good of others, while waiting patiently for God to do God's part in establishing God's own reign. Of course,  the coming feast of Christmas, is a reminder that God's reign is in our midst because God is with us.

To summarize the message of James, and his words that rouse us: like the farmer, we must be responsible about what is ours to do as well as being patient with what is beyond our control.  We must not be given to complaining or to judging others; but simply remain true to ourselves and to God.  James suggests we take the prophets as our models; to see as God sees and to speak in God's name.

Finally, in the Gospel, the disciples of John the Baptist set out to find the Christ.  Their EXPECTATION leads them.  Who and what do we honestly expect?  Where do we seek the Christ?  How do we recognize the Christ?   How do we respond to our daily experiences of encounter with the Christ?

Thus, may JOY, PATIENCE, and EXPECTATION be roused in us as we savor these Scriptures on this Third Sunday of Advent.  In so doing, may we enter into the great gift and mystery of the Incarnation - our God becoming one with us in the flesh!

PRAYER:  Oh Creator God, in these final weeks of Advent, give us the grace to simply be patient with all of life and its unfolding.  May we be patient with our family, friends, co-workers, community members.  After patiently waiting, may we welcome you anew into our world and lives.

Sallie Latkovich, CSJ
Adjunct Professor
Director of Summer Institute
Director of Bible Study and Travel

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