Third Sunday of Advent
Taking a step back, the whole month of Advent could be seen as one long period of the First Week, in that we are told time and again to “Prepare the way of the Lord.” In this 3rd Week of Advent, we have reached the halfway point in a season that is seen as penitential in character. Like Lent, we are asked to look at our lives to see those times when we have fallen away from Christ and failed to recognize Christ present in others. Yet, the reason we examine and prepare our hearts is to allow us to be ready for the King of the Universe, born as a human baby, who entered our world. One way to engage this incarnate God is through the marvelous readings we have on Gaudete Sunday.
The first reading (Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11) may be familiar to many because Jesus Himself proclaims the opening verses of this reading from Isaiah when He is handed the scroll in the synagogue and told to read from it (Luke 4:16-21). Through these words, we get a foretaste of what Jesus is about to do on the earth by bringing the Good News to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, and letting those who are oppressed go free. Continuing this New Testament theme, the psalm or rather the canticle we hear is part of Mary’s Magnificat that is said every day during Evening Prayer. Through these words, we once again hear about the wonders God has in store for the world by providing food for the hungry, mercy for those who are fearful, and help to Israel. We hear another heralding of the Savior who is about to come through John the Baptist who was a “voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (John 1:23 cf. Isaiah 40:3). Like little children eagerly awaiting opening gifts, may our anticipation for the Savior allow us to open our hearts a bit more to see the ways in which God is heralding the birth of Son in our world today.