Most people look forward to Christmas, however often there are many different reasons and people do not always share the same motivation or desires. Christmas for most young children is a wondrous and exciting time, high school age and college age young people may look forward to its long school break, families may look forward to the special time that is spent with each other. Lots of reasons; some overlap, some do not. We are now at the Third Sunday of Advent and Christmas and its actual Season is getting closer and closer. Because it is so near, some folks are joyful. By custom, the Catholic Church calls the Third Sunday in Advent “Gaudete Sunday” which means “Rejoice Sunday” because the wait for Christmas is almost over.
The scripture this weekend helps us to gain insight and understanding about what Christmas, the Coming of the Lord means for us. We rejoice that we know that this is assured to happen, but also we need to be reminded of what it requires of us. The coming of the Lord, the Feast of Christmas is filled with abundance and looks most inviting; yet this Feast also personally costs something as well.
Our passage from Isaiah tells us despite the wonders of the Lord’s coming, that a weary Jewish people all together must face the difficult task of rebuilding a new life in a decimated and wartorn land. The cost of the coming of the Lord for the people of then was to rebuild Israel, the cost for us now is to help build up the reign of God. This time and work is meant to be a healing time for everyone who is involved.
This description of healing and fullness by Isaiah is also found in the Gospel of today. We learn that the Lord who was to come has now appeared among us and the wonderful miracles of wholeness and health and renewed life are the signs of a new order. With the arrival of Jesus, we learn that the “Messianic Kingdom” has now arrived..
In Jesus, the work of John the Baptist and all of Israel’s prophets before him has come to fulfillment. The reign of God is ushered in by this last prophet. John’s vocation as prophet, though great, is dwarfed by his membership in the new dispensation, the new order, the new styled reign of God. This membership, says Jesus, is available to each and every one who recognizes it.
We will know the reign of God is fully here when the human spirit breathes free, the shackles of fear are broken, the shadows of sin are dispersed, the weak are strengthened, hearts are healed, and the desert of the human spirit blooms. Bear in mind that this reign of God does not happen to us; it happens in us and in the world. Also remember that it comes slowly and surely.
We always wait in hope. But, in fact, today our joy runs deep and it spills over. Rejoice!
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