3rd Sunday of Advent – 2017

Adv3B17.   Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11.  God’s Spirit anoints Isaiah to announce God’s empowerment to the lowly, i.e. the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, the prisoners.  Isaiah, made by God the glorious herald of freedom for the captives of Israel, proclaims, “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.”  Through Isaiah God brings the good news of his restauration of the People of Israel.

Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54.  Paralleling Isaiah’s joyful proclamation, Mary likewise rejoices in the work of God to raise up the lowly, i.e., Mary, her very self, as well as all those who have so little but do respect God as the God over them, especially Israel.  Mary and Israel are mentioned as servants of God’s Will.  On this Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of rejoicing, both Isaiah and Mary renew in us the spirit of rejoicing in the Lord always, for the God who is everything good forever, comes into our lives to give us the eternal joy of his life.

John 16-8, 19-28.  When the people saw the miracle of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, getting back his power of speech they said in Luke 1:66b: “’What, then, will this child be?’  For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”  Zechariah proclaims in his Canticle about John the Baptist, in Luke 1:76: “And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” This Sunday’s Gospel says John came “to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him (Jesus).” The end of St. John the Evangelist’s Gospel, John (20:31) says, “but these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of god, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”  John the Baptist’s testimony as well as the Scriptures shine the light on Jesus preparing us to receive him our Savior and God.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24.  Paul gives us ways to help us have Jesus as the God of our lives.  First, “rejoice always.” If God is truly the God of our lives, we will necessarily be joyful because we have everything that is good and we have all that forever.  Secondly, “Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks.”  Be in ceaseless communication with the Lord, both speaking to him and allowing him to communicate with us so that our life is a never ending life with Jesus within us as we see him always working for our good in our lives.  Jesus tells us in John 15:5b, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (good). Third, “Do not quench the Spirit.” Do not let the ways, which the world has ingrained in us, drive us to shut him (the Holy Spirit) down.  Fourth, test everything.  The devil’s wiles are endless and he is a genius in twisting what seems to be good into evil.  Fifth, “May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  To go to heaven, the home of the saints, we must become saints.  We become saints by cooperating with the Holy Spirit who, because he is God, can and will make saints of those who work with him and not against him.  God, who is always faithful, is working within us to make of us his true sons and daughters.  We need to be faithful to the One who is always faithful, collaborating with him daily.