Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 35: 1-6, 10
James 5: 7-10
Matthew 11: 2-11


On this Gaudete Sunday, we focus on joy, and we light a pink candle on the advent wreath as a sign of the nearness of Christ’s birth. In the midst of our daily lives, we are often bombarded with news of war, oppression and violence. Then, there are the personal experiences of tragedy and loss, which many people we know and care about are living through. Like John in prison, we might also ask if the incarnation, Christ’s coming among us, has made any difference. Where are the signs of joy?

Jesus, in his reply to John, points to what he has done, ‘the blind see, the lame walk, the good news is proclaimed to the poor.’ As we reflect on what we see around us, there is plenty of evidence that God’s coming among us has made a difference. Many people volunteer their time and resources to help those in need, ‘to strengthen the weak hands and support the unsteady knees’ and to advocate for refugees, for the homeless, and for those who are vulnerable, for example, those who work in aged care. They bring joy and empower people by opening up places of encounter and dialogue.

These are all signs of God’s presence in our world which we see when people really take on the values and attitudes of Jesus and reach out in compassion and love. The first thing that is said of humanity in the Hebrew Scriptures is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:26) We are made of the light that was in the beginning. We are made of the love that longs for ONENESS.

We might then ask the question: what would it be like if we really lived into that heritage, and how different would the world be if we lived from the light?

It would indeed be a cause for joy, and while we wait patiently for this to become a reality for all, we rejoice in the glimpses of joy and light which we see and hear every day. I pray you will find something to rejoice about every day.

‘O gracious God, may we recognise the goodness and beauty that you have sown in each of us and thus forge bonds of unity, common projects and shared dreams.’ 

Prayer of Pope Francis

Sr. Brigid Murphy CP
Sisters of the Cross & Passion,