3rd Sunday of Advent (b)
The Season of Advent
Sunday 14th December: Third Sunday of Advent. (B)
Today we reach the half way point of Advent. Traditionally, today is called ‘Gaudete’ Sunday which means a day for rejoicing, rejoicing because the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer all the time.
Isaiah’s message in the first reading is the one which Jesus himself uses when he begins his public ministry. It is a message of hope and joy.
St. Paul, in the second reading, tells the Thessalonians how they are to live their lives as they await the second coming.
Although John the Baptist was the focus of last week’s Gospel again today he is at its centre. This time his actions are described by St. John. John declares that he is not the saviour. The Saviour is already present among the people although they do not recognise him.
Monday 15th December: Monday in the third week of Advent. Today we hear two oracles from the Book of Numbers. They are very consoling because they speak of a great leader who is to come to the house of Israel. The people are to have an air expectancy for their saviour.
In the Gospel, we still hear of John the Baptist and his work of preparing the way for the Messiah. If the chief priests and elders had read and accepted the scriptures properly, they would recognise Jesus for who he was and they would know about John’s mission to prepare the way for him.
Tuesday 16th December: Tuesday in the third week of Advent. The first reading today is from the Prophet Zephaniah. He is looking forward to the day when the people are freed from their sin and sinful way of life. He repeats the promise of the God of Israel to give his people clean lips, who will do no wrong; who will tell no lies. It will be a time of peace and contentment when the Messiah comes.
The Gospel passage present us with the figure of John the Baptist again. It highlights that the scribes and Pharisees were so blind that they could not see how the people repented in response to his teaching and so prepared for the Messiah. They would not accept John or his teaching.
Wednesday 17th December: Advent weekday by date.
These are special days now when the thought of the expected Messiah grows in intensity. The kingship will never pass from the house of Jacob into which Jesus will be born. Each of these last days of Advent has a special short prayer or antiphon appealing to the Lord to come. These are known as the ‘O’ antiphons.
This week we also try to understand how Our Lady felt as she looked forward to the birth of her son. The people of Israel were very conscious of their family tree, their genealogy. Today we have the genealogy for Jesus, traced through Joseph back via David to Abraham, the father of the chosen people.
you come forth from the most high,
You fill the universe and hold all things together
In a strong and gentle manner.
To teach us the way of truth.
Thursday 18th December: Advent weekday by date.
The first reading (from the prophet Zephaniah) describes the joy of Jerusalem because God stays with his people.
The Gospel passage presents us with the account of the Visitation. Mary greets Elizabeth, her cousin, who is also pregnant.
Leader of the house of Israel,
Who appeared to Moses
in the fire of the burning bush
And gave him the law on Sinai,
Come to redeem us
with an outstretched arm.
Friday 19th December: Advent weekday by date.
The promise and birth of Samson prefigures that of John. He was destined to save the people from the Philistines. John had the mission to prepare for Jesus who is to be a saviour on a much wider and more spiritual scale.
Zechariah is not able to grasp fully what the angel was telling him and so lost his power of speech until John was born. His faith was not as strong as Joseph’s was on hearing about Jesus’ birth.
Shoot of Jesse,
Who stands as an ensign for the people,
Before whom kings shall shut their mouths,
Whom the gentiles shall seek after,
Come to deliver us.
Delay now no longer.
Saturday 20th December: Advent Weekday by date.
The two texts for today compliment each other – the promise made and the promise fulfilled. The child to be born of a young maiden as a sign of Israel’s salvation, speak directly of a son to be born to the king. In later tradition, this text came to be understood as a messianic prophecy which was fulfilled in Mary and in the child born to her.
Key of David
and sceptre of the house of Israel.
You open a door that no man can shut.
You close a door that no man can open.
and bring bound out of the dungeon him
Who is sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.