Third Sunday of the advent, year A
Dear friends, today we are celebrating the third Sunday of Advent, this Sunday is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” We noticed this joy through the entrance antiphon which says “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” Our hearts are filled with joy because the Messiah is near. With this joy the liturgical readings are inviting us to reflect on the theme: “The time of Salvation has come”.
In the Old Testament, the word salvation has two meanings: the immediate and the long-term effects. Thus in the first reading of today, prophet Isaiah is talking about the immediate manifestation of salvation. This kind of salvation has taken into consideration three dimensions of the daily living of the Israelites. The first dimension is the restoration of the land after the Assyrian invasion. This restoration will involve both the social and the ecological aspects for “the desert shall rejoice and blossom, like the lily it shall blossom abundantly”. The second dimension is that God shall heal the sick and strengthen the weak among the nations. The third and the last dimension of salvation according to prophet Isaiah is what he has expressed in verse 10 “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing”. These three dimensions of salvation have given joy to the people of God for they have experienced the love of the Lord.
In his praise to the Lord, the psalmist also expressed how God saved his people. Salvation according to him is being manifested through rendering justice to the oppressed, providing bread for the hungry, setting free the prisoners, and assuring the protection and security of the stranger and the orphans as well as the widows.
Jesu’s ministry is not different from the one of the prophets Isaiah, for according to his own words, he told John Baptist messengers “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the dead are raised up and the poor have good news preached to them.” Brethren, the primary mission of Jesus Christ, is to save us however he cannot save us without taking into consideration our needs and sufferings. That is why during his public ministry, he fed his followers with both spiritual and physical nourishment in order to show his proximity to them. Many of us might think that salvation begins in heaven but this is not true, salvation starts from here below. That is why in the second reading, Saint James advised his audiences to be patient until the coming of the Lord. By saying so, he encouraged them and us today to have the disposition which is required during the period of salvation; and this requirement is “patient”. It means that from the present life we are experiencing immediate salvation and waiting for the long-term salvation
The readings of today are inviting us to know that the time of salvation has come, therefore we are called upon to rejoice, out of this joy, we must know the identity of the Messiah and once we grasp the full identity of the Messiah, we need to dispose of ourselves in a manner that we can fully have access to the salvation.
- Rejoice for the Lord has come to save you: “Behold your God will come with vengeance with the recompense of God. He will come and save you”. Dear friends, prophet Isaiah addressed this message of encouragement and hope to people who lost hope and trust for they were leaving under the oppression of the Assyrians but also were experiencing natural calamity (sickness). Today these words are addressed to us most especially those of us who are experiencing any sort of problem from the spiritual or social perspective. God has come to save you, open your heart to him, and let him fill your heart with joy.
- Grasp the full identity of the Messiah: “Go and tell John what you hear and see…”. In the gospel today, Jesus has identified himself through the work he was doing; meaning that the full identity of Jesus Christ is only known through his deeds. Unlike other Jewish teachers (Pharisees, Sadducees, the scribes) who detached themselves from their work, Jesus incorporated and attached himself to his mission. It means Jesus loved his mission and dedicated himself to it fully. The gospel of today is reminding us that, the time of salvation is a time of getting involved fully in the mission, it’s a time of dedication, it’s a time of knowing the Messiah himself.
- The disposition to have: “Be patient brethren until the coming of the Lord” says Saint James to his audiences about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second coming of Jesus is considered when we shall fully participate in the glory of God. However, salvation begins from the present life through restoration, healing, protection, and so on. Therefore, in order to get into the full salvation which is our glorification, we must be patient expecting our Lord Jesus Christ.
The time of salvation is a time of joy, it’s a moment dedication, and it’s a time of developing patience as virtue. May this third Sunday of advent bring us close to God, Amen.
Fr. Issere Agre, SVD