for Sunday, December 11, 2011
Today our focus shifts strongly to look at the coming of the Messiah, Jesus
Christ. John the Baptist again points out the Lord to us by denying that
he himself is the Messiah. Instead, the role of John the Baptist is always
to point to the Lord who is to come.
The Lord, the Messiah, foreseen by the prophets of ages past, is referred
to in the first reading today, from the Prophet Isaiah: As the earth
brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will
the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations. The
Messiah is justice and the Messiah in the praise of God. The Messiah will
teach all of us how to be justice and praise for God.
The second reading today, from the First Letter to the Thessalonians,
tells us to rejoice always; pray without ceasing; and in all circumstances
give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. This
Sunday is often called Gaudete Sunday because we are told to rejoice. When
Advent was a much more penitential season, the reason for rejoicing was
clear. God's people had now completed half of the penitential season.
Today, when Advent is no longer clearly penitential, perhaps the best
reason for rejoicing is that God is near us and we continue to receive His
This same letter tells us: Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test
everything; retain what is good. Part of Advent is listening to many
prophetic utterances and meditating on them to understand how they point us
to Christ. It is always good advice, when reading the Scriptures, to
retain what is good and moves us to the Lord.
When we return to the Gospel of today, from Saint John, we can perhaps ask
ourselves about the spiritual values that we follow. Perhaps too often,
our spiritual is not really formed by the Scriptures but formed simply by
survival and what helps us survive. This is not entirely wrong. We need
to survive. In order to survive we need to make some sense out of our
world. Religion can become such a means of survival. On the other hand,
religion as it is found in inspired Hebrew-Christian Scriptures is about
coming to know God and allowing God into our lives entirely.
Let us ask today that God's word may become more alive in us, that we may
know the living God and rejoice in Him. Let us ask God to break the word
open for us so that we can see the word for what it really is: a presence
of God, a presence of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. In
that word, then, we rejoice!
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: