THIRD ADVENT SUNDAY

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR B

Fr. William Robins

As Christmas celebrations approach, I thank God for another joyful step in a joyful life!  I’ve been blessed, first with a large, loving family.  As a youngster I would look forward to Christmas and birthday celebrations knowing that family and friends would regularly see to my happiness at these feasts.  That happiness would carry me through the less happy, yet important times in life.  As my faith matured, I learned that the way to be happy is to accept God’s gift of joy by passing it on!  Now I try to do this with my Jesuit friends, school colleagues, students, and neighbors.

Today’s scripture readings reinforce that joy:

Isaiah proclaims liberty to captives through God’s favor, continually renewing our integrity and salvation as faithfully as the spring brings new life to plants.

Mary rejoices that God has commissioned her to be the Savior’s mother.

Paul exhorts us to enjoy the freedom of the Spirit by sharing that freedom through forgiveness.

John comes like a voice crying in the wilderness, crying:  “Prepare the way of the Lord.”

These prophets challenge all people to live joyfully, with Jesus, with Others, and with Oneself.

Perhaps we can use these final weeks of Advent to encourage one another to live lives of JOY.

We can ask Isaiah to help us be honest and faithful, displaying our integrity before one another.

We might ask Mary for the joy of being able to say “Yes” to God’s call, though this could lead to death by stoning.

Let’s ask Paul for the freedom he had, ready to travel anywhere, to stand before anyone, as witnesses to God’s call.

John invites us to join him with voices crying in the wilderness of our confusing world, sharing our conviction that, we, and all people can share the fullness of salvation with Jesus.

Jesus reminds us that he loved us enough to be crucified, and challenges to us to be as faithful as he was to the Father’s command to empty ourselves so that we can be filled with true JOY with Jesus and everyone God has placed in our lives, as we share in the Resurrection.

Let’s pray for that trust I had as a youngster at Christmas.  Let’s pray that we can instill that trust in God by our trustworthy forgiveness.

Let’s pray for the gift of patience with ourselves, others, and God, as we continue through life joyfully.  Perhaps we can quietly read today’s scripture selections, praying for the faith, hope and love that Isaiah, John, Paul, Mary, and Jesus experienced.  Then we can enjoy this Christmas, and every Christmas, all the way to the final Christmas of heaven!

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