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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Third Sunday of Advent (A)

1st Reading (Isa 35:1-6a.10): The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.
Responsorial Psalm: 145
R/. Lord, come and save us.
The Lord God keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free.

The Lord gives sight to the blind; the Lord raises up those who were bowed down. The Lord loves the just; the Lord protects strangers.

The fatherless and the widow he sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The Lord shall reign forever; your God, o Zion, through all generations.
2nd Reading (Jas 5;7-10): Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Versicle before the Gospel (Isa 61:1): Alleluia. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 11,2-11): When John the Baptist heard in prison about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples, asking him: «Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?». Jesus answered them, «Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life and good news is reaching the poor. And how fortunate is the one who does not take offense at me».

As the messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, «When you went out to the desert, what did you expect to see? A reed swept by the wind? What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? People who wear fine clothes live in palaces. What did you actually go out to see? A proph-et? Yes, indeed, and even more than a prophet. He is the man of whom Scripture says: ‘I send my messenger ahead of you to prepare the way before you’. I tell you this: no one greater than John the Baptist has come forward among the sons of women, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he».

«No one greater than John the Baptist has come forward among the sons of women»

Fr. Johannes VILAR (Köln, Germany)

Today, as in last Sunday, the Church familiarizes us with the figure of John the Baptist. He had many disciples and a clear and well-differentiated tenet: for the Publicans, for the soldiers, for the Pharisees and Sadducees... His desire was to prepare Messiah's public life. First he sent John and Andrew; today he sends others so they could know Him too. They ask him: «Are you the one who is to come or should we expect someone else?» (Mt 11:3). John certainly knew who Jesus was. He himself bears witness to that: «And I had no knowledge who He was, but He who sent me to give baptism with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit coming down and resting, it is he who gives baptism with the Holy Spirit’» (Jn 1:33). And Jesus responds with facts: the blind see, the lame walk...

John had a firm disposition about his way of life and about sticking to the Truth, which, eventually, brought imprisonment and martyrdom to him. Even in his prison he expeditiously speaks to Herod. John teaches us how to combine a firm character with meekness: «The one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie» (Jn 1:27); «He must become greater; I must become less» (Jn 3:30); he exults at the fact Jesus baptizes more disciples than him, as he only considers himself as “the friend who attends the bridegroom” (cf. Jn 3:29).

In short: John teaches us to seriously consider our mission on earth: to be tenacious Christians knowing how to behave as sons of God. We should be asking us: —How did Mary and Joseph prepare themselves for Jesus Christ's birth? How did John prepare Jesus' teachings? How do we prepare ourselves to commemorate it and for the second advent of our Lord at the end of time? As Cyril of Jerusalem said: «We preach not one advent only of Christ, but a second also, far more glorious than the former. For the former gave a view of His patience; but the latter brings with it the crown of a Divine Kingdom».

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “John is the voice that lasts for a time. And the question came: Who are you, then? He replied: I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord. What does prepare the way mean, if not ‘be humble in your thoughts’?.” (Saint Augustine)

  • “On this Sunday, the Church, looks forward to the joy of Christmas, and that is why it is called ‘Gaudete Sunday’. And the joy of Christmas is a special joy. It is a serene and tranquil joy, a joy that forever accompanies the Christian. Even in difficult moments. When he is a true Christian, the Christian never loses his Peace.” (Francis)

  • “‘Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe in the gospel’’ (Mk 1:14-15). ‘To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth’. Now the Father's will is ‘to raise up men to share in his own divine life’. He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 541)