3rd Sunday of Advent
13th December 2020
Year B – Psalter week 3
We heard in last week’s Gospel, as well as in this week the prophecy that God gave Isaiah, that he would ‘send a messenger’ to prepare a way for the Lord’s coming. This prophecy was now being fulfilled in John the Baptist. John was the herald of the coming of Jesus and his mission.
He was a great and enigmatic man. Jesus himself said of him: “Of all of the men born of women, none was greater than John the Baptist.” That is quite a powerful statement from Jesus!
And what did John the Baptist say about Jesus? He said “there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.“
We are all familiar with the statement about being unfit to undo the sandals of Jesus but the poignant bit was ‘unknown to you’ because those who asked the question simply didn’t recognise that Jesus was already among them.
In other words, John the Baptist’s awareness was centered on the actual presence of God in their midst. At that time, as well as for us now, ordinary eyes couldn’t perceive the presence of God in the midst of humanity, but John the Baptist’s eyes could.
In fact, John recognised Jesus as the Son of God, while he himself was still in his mother’s womb as he leapt for joy when Mary visited Elizabeth. From that moment John would have known that he was to be a witness, pointing beyond himself, a living sign to bring people to Christ.
He was to show a way to the Lord, and not be the way himself.
So, what can we learn from John the Baptist who was the last of the prophets? The messages of some the prophets of the Old Testament can be difficult to relate to sometimes, and often their message was specifically for the people of the time. But, John is certainly one prophet that we all have so much in common with, and whose message is just as relevant in our time as when it was first received.
As in John’s time, Jesus is among us and we are able to receive his real presence in the Eucharist. He is also present in everyone we meet, even if we ourselves do not always have the wisdom to see it. He is also present in our own lives, and like John we should try to make a straight way for the Lord, who we can be confident is aware how tough the challenges of life can be.
Each year as we look forward to Christmas we naturally think back on the previous year and the good and the bad that has happened in our lives. Without doubt this last year has been particularly challenging for so many people. We ask why there is a pandemic, where is God, why does he not just stop it, and what does the future hold. All reasonable and understandable questions.
But we need to remember that our challenges in life are not something that God wills or is indifferent to it.
His coming at that first Christmas, shows God’s love for mankind and his desire for us to be with him in eternal happiness when every tear will be wiped away.
We have also seen, amongst the sadness this year, so much goodness, kindness and love shown to many people in need, which is also a real sign of God’s presence.
Jesus still needs witnesses today, like John the Baptist, who can make him present to other people and Advent calls on us to look again at what contribution we can make to point others around us to him as we let the light of God shine through us.
As we start the 3rd week in Advent, let us pray that we will be able to recognise the presence of Jesus in our midst, remembering that Jesus will come again to fulfil the promise of salvation, as we continue to be watchful and anticipate that great day with joy.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Sunday Message and Look
Download this weeks Sunday Message and Look (for our younger parishioners) by clicking on the images, for all the readings for this week, as well as the prayers during mass and the usual weekly thoughts and reflections.
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor Alleluia!